Spring time in Charlevoix brings hiking and biking, blankets of trilliums, warmer weather, elusive mushrooms, and of course Petunias! What a better time to visit Charlevoix then in the spring time when the town is bursting with the excitement of summer! One of the biggest examples of a community collaborating in Northern Michigan has to be one of the things that makes Charlevoix what it is; Operation Petunia. To learn more about this effort and other reasons why spring is a beautiful time to visit Charlevoix read below.
Hiking and Biking
If you enjoy getting outside after a long winter than Charlevoix is your place, with dozens of trails within a 10 minute drive, any outdoor enthusiast would be excited to lace up and see what the backwoods of Northern Michigan have to offer. Trails are diverse going through thick hardwood forests, sand dunes, open fields, and up mountains. While out there don’t forget to keep your eyes out for some Northern Michigan favorites including Petoskey Stones, Moral mushrooms, and Trilliums. To learn more about some of the biking and hiking trails in the area click here.
If you’ve ever tasted the Moral Mushroom you would know what all the hype is about. These elusive mushrooms are most prominently found in our region and keep hunters busy before work, after work, and on the weekends searching out the tasty flesh. If you’d like to try one, but don’t feel like walking through the woods to look, most area restaurants serve them (if they can even keep them in house) between April and June.
Petoskey Stone Hunting
The Petoskey stone is a colony of fossilized corals that date back tens of thousands of years when Michigan actually had a tropical climate. Petoskey stones can only be found in Northern Michigan. Because of this they are the Michigan State stone and bring many visitors to town in search of this rock. Spring is the best time to search for these rocks. During the fall, winter, and spring when the water has a strong current and the winds are powerful many of them get washed ashore. By mid-summer most will have been picked up and taken home as souvenirs by the many visitors in the area. The best way to find them is to be patient and keep your eyes open while walking up and down Michigan, Mt. Mc Sauba, or Fisherman’s Island State Park Beaches.
Operation Petunia - Not many events can bring an entire community together for the simple betterment of their town, but that is what Operation Petunia is for Charlevoix.
In early January 1982, a new organization called Keep Charlevoix Beautiful held a meeting to discuss ways to make Charlevoix more beautiful. They mainly talked about placing a few barrels of flowers around town. Historian Bob Miles whispered to Dale Boss, "I don't think anything I've heard so far adds too much to making Charlevoix beautiful." Dale said, "Just wait until everyone gets through talking, and see what I have in mind." Dale told those present that it sounded wild, but he had envisioned for years having petunias line both sides of the roadway from city limit to city limit.
The official planting day is the Thursday before Memorial Day. At 1:00 p.m., the five miles of roadway to be planted are narrowed from four lanes down to two. Twelve hundred flats of flowers, that we get from Florigen Greenhouse in Traverse City, are placed along the curb from one end of town to the other, all in preparation for the 1,000+ planters due to show up at 5:00 p.m. Once planting is complete, the volunteers descend upon East Park for a picnic dinner to celebrate their efforts and the quickly approaching summer season. Keep Charlevoix Beautiful, Inc. also donates over 80 hanging baskets of petunias, which are placed on lampposts throughout the central business district and the Round Lake yacht harbor.
In 2001, Keep Charlevoix Beautiful, Inc. purchased a beautiful new watering truck. It has every accessory GM has to offer. The new truck allows the driver, Dale Boss, to provide over 12,000 gallons of water daily to the thirsty plants. His wife Marilyn appreciates the fact that she no longer needs to accompany him on every watering trip, which was once a two-person operation. The watering truck is also equipped with a music system, which plays ragtime piano music. Thanks to a sponsorship by the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce, the Petunia Truck also visits local parades around the state to present Miss Charlevoix and her court on a 37-foot float. Every year, approximately 2.5 million people see our truck and float promoting Charlevoix the Beautiful.
One of the biggest challenges for “Operation Petunia” is weeding throughout the summer. This year we have hired a deputy sheriff and four – six prison inmates to do the weeding. The weeding is typically done once or twice each month during the summer season. It usually takes four days to weed the five miles of petunia beds.
To learn more about Operation Petunia click here.