Central City blooms on annual Planting Day

Nancy Parker has attended nearly every Planting Day since 1984. Despite a torrid morning in Central City on June 4, Parker dexterously used her trowel to plant some fuchsia petunias in the Opera Garden. “Some years it rains, some years it’s cold,” Parker stated. “I ask my friends to join me for Planting Day. They say, ‘You’re still doing that? Are you crazy?’ That’s why we need the younger people to help us.” This year, Parker’s prayers were answered.

Parker, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Central City Opera, was joined by twenty-something volunteers, old and young alike, at this year’s annual Planting Day. These helpers were comprised of the usual CCO Guild members, as well as this year’s teenaged Flower Girls (who will be featured in the June 28 Yellow Rose Ball) and other volunteers who assisted with planting dozens of flowers around the Opera House.

Some of this year’s Planting Day volunteers pause for a picture in the Opera Garden.

“These people are an amazing, multigenerational group,” said Christina Dinegar, President of the CCO Guild. “They’re motivated, loyal, and friendly. You make really good friends from 80 to 17.”

Dinegar’s daughter Sarah, one of the upcoming Flower Girls, is among the younger crowd this year. “I haven’t been to the Opera [House] in a while, but it’s nice to come out here and help. I’m looking forward to returning in a few weeks.”

As president, Dinegar oversees nearly 250 Guild members, and the group is responsible for acquiring the gardening supplies, flowers (from Novacek Greenhouse in Golden and Center Greenhouse in Denver), lunch, and, of course, the volunteers. This year, there were also a handful of men helping out. One of them was Geoffrey Hughes, who has returned home between architectural projects in Beijing. Hughes volunteered with his mother Julie, another Guild member. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “My main job is moderate to heavy lifting, and to take orders,” which pleased his proud mother.

While it could be considered an arduous event, Julie Hughes certainly knew how to liven it up – this was her sixteenth year volunteering at Plant Day. Hughes shared stories about Geoffrey’s time in Lebanon and cracked jokes with the other volunteers. “This is one of the things that is hard to give up,” she said. Hughes has also partook in other volunteering events that the CCO Guild manages, such as setting up the 33 homes in the Central City Opera House Association in April and then cleaning them come August.

Susan Stiff, another Guild member, has volunteered in another capacity. “Back when performers would come through Denver, we would host people,” she remembered fondly. “They stayed in our basement. We called them our ‘basement boys,'” she said with a chuckle. “Gene Scheer [Cap’n Andy, Show Boat, and Librettist, Three Decembers] was one of our ‘basement boys.’ He’s become a lifelong friend; he sang at my husband’s funeral.”

Stiff looks forward to Planting Day each year almost as much as she looks forward to opening night. Taking off her gardening gloves for just a moment, she paused and marveled at all of the volunteers’ work. “You look at all these flowers, which will be hailed on before June 28, but they’ll still be here then and you can say, ‘We did that.'”

Thank you to all of our volunteers for making the Opera Gardens look beautiful!

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