On a dreary gray morning, during a global pandemic, a group of volunteers brought a splash of vibrant spring color to downtown Johnstown on Friday morning.

They planted flowers, including marigolds and petunias that will soon grow into full bloom, in Central Park and boxes along some of the central business district’s main roads. The individuals, mostly from Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership and the city, did a scaled-down version of the annual Downtown Beautification Day due to the limit on large gatherings.

“It was nice that we were still able to get about 12 volunteers today,” DDJP President Melissa Radovanic said.

“Some of the folks are from the Discover Downtown board and some are just people that wanted to help out any way. At our normal cleanup, we would have close to a hundred people. And so, obviously, we can’t do the majority of the work that we would normally do, but we’re happy to at least get the flowers planted and make downtown look beautiful.”

Melana Simms, a volunteer, talked about the importance of being outdoors during the pandemic when people have been isolating at home.

“I think this year is, in my opinion, different than any other year because I think a lot of us, including myself, are utilizing outdoor recreational spaces more so than we have in the past, since our other options are kind of limited,” Simms said. 

“So I think it’s important to beautify parks and trails and other outdoor recreational areas. I think this will be appreciated by people coming through.”

Cheryl Izing of DJP

Cheryl Izing, Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership treasurer, unloads crates of flowers that were planted in and around Central Park as part of the group’s annual Downtown Beautification Day in Johnstown on Friday, May 22, 2020.

The flowers will help make the downtown look attractive for when people can once again come together more frequently and socialize. 

“When we do open back up, everything will be beautified,” Cheryl Izing, a DDJP member, said. “People can enjoy it once again and be able to sit in the park.”

Radovanic optimistically hopes DDJP can host events later this year, including the annual Taste & Tour that was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday.

“We’re hopeful, as summer goes on, that our programming, as well as other folks’ programming, in Central Park starts again and that we can get people to enjoy the downtown now that the businesses are open and hopefully the restaurants will be open soon and people remember to come downtown for all the good things that we have to offer,” Radovanic said.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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