Steve Brickner, owner of The Flower Cart, is pictured
working on an arrangement at his Chesterton shop. He leaves Tuesday for
Washington D.C. where he will be among the 200 select florists who will
create more than 3,500 flower arrangements for the nine Inaugural balls,
three dinners and other official receptions and events welcoming George W.
Bush into his second term as President of the United States.
(Tribune photo by Margaret Willis)
Steven Brickner of The Flower Cart in Chesterton is one of 200 floral
designers and professionals from 35 states and the District of Columbia who
are convening in Washington for the upcoming presidential inauguration.
As a volunteer, Brickner will help turn 250,000 flowers and foliage into
more than 3,500 arrangements for the nine inaugural balls, three dinners and
other official receptions and events to welcome George W. Bush into office
for the second time.
As has been tradition since John F. Kennedy, the Society of American
Florists (SAF) has assembled a corps of the nation’s top floral
professionals. Their goal, working with the Presidential Inaugural
Committee, is to evoke a sophisticated, elegant and tasteful atmosphere
“This is our country’s grandest celebration,” Brickner said. “I am honored
to be part of bringing so much beauty to the inaugural events.”
This is the second time Brickner has participated in the Inaugural event. He
was a member of the volunteers who designed flower arrangements for the
George H. Bush Presidential Inauguration.
More than 100 varieties of flowers and foliage will be used to create the
arrangements - from simple cocktail table arrangements and creative
tablescapes to large buffet pieces and seven-foot tall topiaries.
The flowers are being brought in from all parts of the United States, as
well as Latin America and Europe, and include roses, lisianthus, carnations,
alstroemeria, hydrangeas, lilies, tulips, Gerbera daisies and orchids, among
others. The amount of smilax vines and magnolia branches that will be used
would stretch the length of Pennsylvania Ave. from the White House to the
“In order for the flowers to show off their full beauty on the nights of the
dinners and balls, everything has to work like clockwork,” Brickner said.
All in all, the 200 floral volunteers will spend about 7,500 hours planning,
procuring flowers and designing and installing the inaugural décor. The
behind-the-scenes flower preparation and designing will take place in a
worksite in Southeast Washington, D.C. and arrangements will be installed at
the dinner and ball sites on the days of the events.
“The security is much more stringent than the last time,” Brickner said
explaining that the florists were told it would be.
“They did background checks on all of us and we had to submit a digital
photograph for them to use for identification we must wear to have access
into work rooms and the event locations,” he said.
“We will begin working Tuesday afternoon, right after checking in,” he said.
On Thursday afternoon, we’ll be sealed off with the floral arrangements for
the secret service sweep.”
During the two-and-a-half days, the florists will follow the overall plan
for each specific event, but are allowed some freedom in the design.
“With 3,500 different arrangements in two-and-a-half days, it’s quite an
undertaking,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure, but it’s such a great
feeling to accomplish the visual affect that the flowers add to the event,”
Brickner will not be attending any of the events at which his work will be
on display, but he and his friends in the industry will be celebrating at
their own parties.
“Those at the official parties will be wearing tuxedos, we’ll be wearing
blue jeans,” he said with a chuckle.
Reflecting on the significance of his part in the Presidential Inauguration,
he said, “It’s exciting to be able to do what I do best for such an historic