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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Playground equipment, tree lighting part of Harbor Way Garden upgrades

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Improved lighting and the addition of playground equipment will be part of the upgrades the Harbor Island Garden Club has planned for the Harbor Way Garden at Wrightsville Beach Park.

After being re-elected for another year as the club’s president on Friday, Melynda McNeil said the club had several initiatives prepared for the coming year, including projects for its children’s club at Wrightsville Beach Elementary School and its role as host for a region meeting of garden clubs. The club also named member Elise Running as its woman of the year and re-elected its board.

With upgrades coming to the playground equipment at Wrightsville Beach Park, a piece of playground equipment has been moved over to the 36,400-square foot Harbor Way Garden park that the club maintains. McNeil said the club will also add new interior lighting on the trees inside the garden, making it easier to enjoy the gardens later into the evening.

“We want to make it a place where everyone can come and enjoy the beauty of the gardens,” McNeil said.

The Harbor Island Garden Club’s Rooty Rascal program at Wrightsville Beach Elementary will unveil a series of signs to help the Audubon Society prevent disturbance of shorebird nests. Club member Anne Pleasants said the program, where the students drew and painted their own pictures urging people not to disturb the nests, was so well received that the Audubon Society has expanded it to eight other states.

Another upcoming event for the club will be the October regional meeting of garden clubs from more than 15 North Carolina counties, which McNeil said will give the club the opportunity to show off the attractions of Wrightsville Beach to the visiting members.

At the club’s yearly meeting at Seapath Tower on Friday, the president and board members were re-elected mainly to the same positions. Joining McNeil will be Leigh Kelly as first vice president, Dot Balkcum as second vice president,  Eva Elmore as third vice president and yearbook editor, Kim Waters as fourth vice president, Lynn Walker as recording secretary, Kim Gilbert at treasurer and Heidi Winslow as corresponding secretary and Kati Cofer as yearbook editor.

In selecting Running as the woman of the year, McNeil said she has always given a positive attitude and looks for new ways to help the club. Plus, her husband Robert’s contributions made them a good team, with them contributing on Christmas and Valentine’s Day lighting, hanging pink ribbons in the garden and fixing the garden’s bluebird houses.

“She always jumps in and does what she can,” McNeil said. “And she can do a lot.”

And for the seventh straight year, Patti Jacaruso won the floral design award. The secret to her continued success?

“I don’t care for carnations,” she said. “I love to use the greenery from my neighbor’s yard.”

The club provides floral arrangements for many occasions, including church events, for the hospice and for member’s birthday. Jacaruso said giving flowers is a reward unto itself.

“It’s a thing of beauty to see people receive flowers,” Jacaruso said. “Flowers brings out the best in people.”

Two members were acknowledged for 25 years of membership to the club: Peggy Gentry and Knox Pierson.

“It’s a gratifying experience to be involved with such a dedicated group of women,” Pierson said.

Each member of the board was given a different colored Hawaiian lei to represent their unique roles within the club.  McNeil was presented with the only multi-colored floral neckwear, “as a prediction that the next year will be colorful.”

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