Like those flower baskets?

by: File Photo, 
Volunteers hang Lake Oswego Flower Baskets during last year’s effort.

April showers bring May flowers, something Lake Oswego residents know especially well.

That's because for the past 19 years, Village Basket committee members have organized and helped hang hundreds of flower baskets on light posts around the city during a five-month season. This year the baskets will be hung on May 17, the Saturday after Mother's Day.

The program is run by the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

'I think it's a real celebration of the city and its beauty, and something that people throughout the city enjoy for the season,' said Michelle Baker, chairperson of the Village Basket Committee. 'Lake Oswego has been recognized for its village basket program,' something other cities have seen and replicated. 'It's a tradition that everybody in the city is able to be a part of, and hopefuly they'll contribute to keeping it going.'

The kick-off for this year's Village Basket fundraising has arrived, which means the committee is looking for monetary help from the community. Each flower basket costs $300 to plant and maintain during the five-month season, with the hopes of hanging 280 baskets.

'One thing I'm not sure people are aware of is that the Village Flower Basket program is not paid for or put on or produced by the city or the chamber - it happens in partnership with the two, but it is not funded by either of them,' Baker said. 'All the funding comes from contributions by business owners and from the public.'

The 15 members of the committee have been working hard to get everything up and running, with responsibilities being divided up among them and the other volunteer coordinators who all have detailed duties.

'We're very fortunate in that the people on the committee have been doing it for years and years, so we kind of got it down to a good routine,' she said.

Baker said something different this year than in years past is the option for people to donate money and have a basket hung in honor of someone. For example, she is having one dedicated to her mother, who passed away recently and always loved the flower baskets in Lake Oswego.

When it comes time to hang the baskets, Baker said close to 70 eager volunteers spread out around the city at the early start time of 5 a.m. to begin putting the colorful baskets up. She said this year there will be more colors and a bigger variety of plant materials -'they're going to be gorgeous.' Once all the baskets are hung, the volunteers meet at the chamber of commerce for a celebratory breakfast.

'We have teams that work really well together and take alot of responsibility for geting the job done,' she said. 'It's a big job,' she said, adding that 'it's a lot of fun and it's just really gratifying once they're all up to watch them start blooming.'

To donate to the committee, mail tax-deductible donations to Village Baskets, c/o Lake Oswego Chamber Foundation, P.O. Box 368, Lake Oswego OR 97034. To contribute by Visa or Master Card or for more information, call the chamber at 503-636-3634.