Original article by Alexandria Living, Beth Lawton, September 25, 2020
The flower baskets on King Street may have remained empty this year until Teddy Kim and Andy Reid stepped up.
King Street almost didn’t have flowers hanging from its iconic light posts this year.
As the realities of the coronavirus pandemic pushed City of Alexandria officials to tighten its budget, it appeared that the King Street flowers could be on the chopping block.
The petunias, lantana, dragon wing begonias and blue scaevola adorning King Streets lamps are all thanks to the efforts of T.C. Williams grads and local entrepreneurs Teddy Kim and Andy Reid, with backing from Alexandria Lighting and Avanti Holdings.
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Andy Reid, top, and Teddy Kim, made sure the flowers on the light posts on King Street in Old Town were in place this year when budget cuts threatened the program.
“We thought it was something we should do because it adds a lot to the city and shows the community pride that makes Alexandria so special,” Kim said this week.
It was early April when Kim and Reid found out the flowers were at risk in necessary pandemic budget cuts.
Working with Alexandria’s parks department and city staff, Kim and Reid used schematics from the previous years and worked with wholesalers to find plant materials, including the basket base, soil and flowers. The two made multiple trips to Maryland to bring back materials from places like Garden Artisans in Annapolis and Six Flags.
After purchasing a trailer and watering tank, Kim and Reid worked for about a week straight to fill the 240 flower baskets that run the length of King Street in Old Town — Kim would usually hold the ladder and Reid would go up and do the planting, covering three to five blocks each day.
“We literally brought life back to the street as we installed,” Reid said. As they planted, store owners and residents walking on King Street thanked them.
Growing up in Alexandria, both Kim and Reid said their parents instilled the value of giving back to the community. Reid’s parents were both public school teachers and both loved to garden, and Reid is now setting up a new landscaping company, Reid Outdoors, LLC.
“With that there’s a lot of pride — Titan pride, Alexandria pride — and I think the flowers and taking care of your community is also a show of pride in the community,” Reid said.
All summer, the two have been watering plants between midnight and 3 a.m. multiple times per week. With on-street outdoor dining late into the nights and early deliveries for King Street stores starting around 5 a.m., the midnight to 3 a.m. time slot was the only safe time for them to water the plants, replace flowers that didn’t thrive and do other maintenance.
Kim and Reid are not being paid for this, and neither Alexandria Lighting nor Avanti Holdings Group, where Kim is a principle, are receiving any payments. The project, including materials, labor and overhead, is valued at more than $60,000.
Reid chose hardy flowers that were disease resistant, drought resistant and native — all chosen for longevity. The flowers are expected to last through at least October.
“As we start to have frost or cold air at night, the things that don’t do well, we’ll start taking them out,” Kim said.
At a time when many residents and business owners were feeling some despondency about the pandemic, “we wanted to show hope, we wanted to show strength, we wanted to show pride,” Kim said.
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