Daffodils in bloom

By Emily LeCoz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The first of 200,000 daffodils burst into bloom around the city recently, thanks to a three-year effort of the Tupelo Quality of Life Committee.
Every year since its inception in 2008, the group has purchased thousands of daffodil bulbs, which then were planted with volunteer labor at high-traffic areas in Tupelo.
The project is modeled after a similar effort in New York City, which buried 500,000 bulbs after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and adds more to the mix each year. Today, 4 million daffodils bloom there each spring.
In the first two years of Tupelo’s project, 150,000 daffodils were planted along McCullough Boulevard, on the Mississippi Department of Transportation hill on North Gloster Street and in the historic downtown Mill Village neighborhood.
Last fall, all 50,000 bulbs went along Veterans Boulevard and in Veterans Park.
They feature a variety of colors, including reds, yellows and whites.
The Quality of Life Committee gets funding from a voluntary utility round-up program through Tupelo Water amp& Light.
It rounds up utility customers’ monthly bills to the nearest dollar – for example, from $50.64 to $51. Customers contribute between 1 cent and 99 cents per month and can opt out at any time.
The average annual per-customer contribution is less than $6 dollars.
Members of the Quality of Life Committee, all of whom are appointed by the City Council, decide how to spend the revenues. None of it comes from the city’s general fund budget.
Since its beginning, the committee has spent or pledged more than $101,000 on projects including the successful Down on Main free summer concerts and the most recent Pigskins in the Park event, which drew hundreds of people.
It also funded the first year activities of the Mayor’s Healthy Task Force, including the Mayor’s Marathon and Fitness in Tupelo. Those activities helped the city win a $25,000 Healthy Cities grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.