BY FAITH HARPER, firstname.lastname@example.org
Buds of color are blooming across Tyler, but Sunday marked the official beginning of the city's favorite flower season.
The rose season opened Sunday afternoon when the Texas Rose Festival Association, the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department, the Tyler Rose Museum and a group of residents met in the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden Center to officially kick off the season.
The ceremony marked the 81st Texas Rose Festival and celebration of the beauty of roses in Tyler.
"I would like to take a minute to acknowledge the tremendous commerce the rose industry brings to Tyler," Texas Rose Queen Kathryn Elizabeth Peltier said. "This income touches many parts of our city, including our restaurants, retail merchants, hotels, florists and many more."
More than 100,000 people from around the world visit the rose garden annually. The gardens display more than 35,000 plants, representing more than 500 species. The flowers will continue to bloom from the spring to the fall when the bushes are typically harvested and sold.
The beautiful flowers carry a significant economic impact to the area. More than one-fifth of all commercial rose bushes sold in the United States are grown in Smith County and more than half of the nation's rose bushes are packaged and shipped from the area.
Mayor pro-tem Daryl Bowdre proclaimed the day as Rose Sunday in the city and spoke briefly about a proposed plan to renovate the city's garden, which is one of the largest in the nation.
"With us being the rose capital, our rose garden needs to be second-to-none, and this plan not only personifies that, but would bring more people to the Tyler Rose Garden — even those who live in Tyler, Texas — and truly make it the centerpiece tourist attraction that it ought to be," he said.
Kathleen Bertram, duchess of the Texas Rose Festival, commended the people who keep the garden blooming and those who are the heartbeat of the Texas Rose Festival tradition.
"I would like to thank the city of Tyler Parks and Recreation team for their vision for the future of the garden," Ms. Bertram said. "Together, these people are the ones that truly ‘Keep Tyler Rosey.' In addition, thank you to all the volunteers and staff for this year's upcoming festival. The endurance of the incredible tradition of the Texas Rose Festival is due to your service."
Kayla Webb, a senior at John Tyler High School, was presented with a scholarship from the association during the ceremony. The scholarship is provided through a partnership with the East Texas Community Foundation. Ms. Webb plans to study broadcast journalism and is currently involved with the student council, National Honor Society, varsity basketball and volleyball. She also volunteers with several civic groups.
The 81st Texas Rose Festival will be held Oct. 16 through Oct. 19.