Flower power campaign may bloom in state capital

Cartoon characters focus attention on litter pickup

September 27, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

A new heroine is blossoming in Annapolis. She's feminine, she's floral - and she's unforgiving about litter.

Meet Lacey Anne Regina, the Queen Anne's Lace leader of a new squad of cartoon characters that could soon adorn many of the state capital's trash cans in an effort to keep streets litter-free.

The campaign is the latest flower-oriented initiative of Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, who has been known to pluck weeds on her strolls around town and drive around for weeks with boxes of daffodil bulbs in her car. One of Moyer's first acts as mayor was to replace the city's Lady Justice seal with its rose and thistle flag on City Hall letterhead.

The new campaign, which officials hope to launch by the time of the annual Annapolis boat shows early next month, is to accompany a stepped-up street-cleaning program by the city.

The slogan "Litter Lessens Beauty: Keep It Clean" will be printed on the trash can signs, bumper stickers, place mats and children's activity sheets the city will distribute.

"We were looking for our own mascot," Moyer said of the Lacey Anne idea. "After July 4th, our public works department said we need to do something - all these tourists come to town and we need to remind them [not to litter]."

The city chose Queen Anne's Lace as the centerpiece flower for the campaign because it shares the city's namesake. Her flower-power companions are a blue-haired thistle, a Tudor rose and a black-eyed Susan.

Local illustrator Penne Romar, who once toiled on Deputy Dawg animated cartoons, was enlisted for the design.

The city estimates that the cost for the design and bumper stickers will be about $1,000, with Moyer picking up the tab herself or soliciting private donations. The price for signs on the 142 trash cans that are to be part of the campaign has not been determined.

For Moyer - who almost always has fresh flowers in her office - the campaign is just the most recent bloom in a botanically oriented political career that started with her beautification efforts as the city's first lady in the 1960s.

Known as "the mother of Greenscape" for the spring cleanup and gardening program she helped launch a decade ago, Moyer has introduced city legislation protecting trees and fought on behalf of the program to put flower baskets throughout downtown.

Also an animal lover - she drew national attention in the spring for refusing to exterminate ants that invaded City Hall - she recently turned a patch of crabgrass along a city parking garage into a butterfly garden.

At the peak of summer, Moyer called city public information officer Jan Hardesty, frantically requesting that she put out an alert: Some black-eyed Susans near City Hall were wilting.

"I picked up my coffee cup and went to administer first aid," Hardesty recalled.

That's not the only time Moyer has put her good friend Hardesty on flower patrol. On a recent trip to Cumberland, Moyer spotted thistles that resembled those on the city flag. She sent Hardesty tromping through the weeds to collect seeds. "Do you know how much thistles hurt?" Hardesty asked, recalling the incident.

Moyer said she thinks beautification projects have helped improve the city's image, noting that the Annapolis Business Association's flower basket project came up with its nickname "The City of Flowers by the Bay."

"When people come to the city and talk about what they like about it, flowers is one of them," she said. "Planting things that look good and make you feel good certainly gives the impression that this is a city that cares about itself."

The Lacey Anne idea has taken on a life of its own. Moyer now wants to write children's books featuring the whimsical characters. "I said, `Can't you just see them skipping around town to all the historic things?' Let's do a book!" Moyer recalled.

Meanwhile, another idea is hatching in City Hall. Moyer is looking at ways to attract purple martins to the city to exterminate mosquitoes.

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