Meet the man who holds nearly 300 hanging pots downtown that look beautiful for LEADS | Home and garden

He purposefully moves all night, methodically working the streets of the city to fulfill his mission.

Sometimes he plays classic rock – at a respectable volume, of course. And he often checks the Weather Channel program on his phone.

He is Don Grof, the only paid LEADS employee, and he is responsible for watering nearly 300 flower baskets that hang annually on lampposts in the city center. The rest of the organization, independent of the city of Lancaster, is made up of volunteers.

LEADS has been working on Lancaster downtown decorations all year. Adopt-a-Basket fundraising helps these endeavors. Individuals can purchase $ 90 baskets each in memory of a loved one; on each basket hangs a plate with this designation. Donors can also post a photo on the board of their basket for an additional $ 10.

To take the basket, visit The deadline for accepting baskets is May 10.

The baskets will rise up on May 15 this year, and once they are up, Grof works seven days a week until October to keep them beautiful.

The 60-year-old Count moved to Lancaster 16 years ago. He grew up on a farm in Leola, and before living in the city, lived in the New Holland-Blue Ball area.

This year he is in his seventh season with VIDIM as a tractor driver and watering can. Here Grof shares a bit about his unique position and why he is happy to work so unusually for the cause. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How often are plants watered after lifting?

First every night, because when we get flowers from growers, they are dry, because otherwise they would be too heavy to hang … The first month I do not go out every night.

After that, it all depends on the weather. This is what you will learn through experience. If we have a good rain every other day or at least a couple of times a week, I can go out at night. But if it’s dry … then I have to go out every night.

So you water every basket every time you go out? What is your strategy?

When I go out, there were 270 last year – I get everyone. The strategy is different. From Sunday to Thursday is mostly very simple, because by 23:00 the city is almost dead – at least the central part of the city. I go down to West King, from Charlotte, where our garage is, and I go down the square and do the whole downtown, just start knocking it out. Then I make my way to the perimeter.

On Friday and Saturday nights the strategy is drastically different … I start from the perimeter and make my way downtown. (Editor’s note: This strategy, Grof says, is to avoid downtown Lancaster when bars and restaurants are busiest. Busy sidewalks can be a problem, as the vast majority of Grof’s work is on the sidewalk.)

What is your watch?

I usually start around 10pm and if all goes well I will finish by 4am.

You’re nocturnal, then?

It’s perfect. I am one of those people who find it difficult to fall asleep when the sun rises.

How is it to be in town so late?

I really like it because the city is quiet from Sunday to Thursday. I have streets just for myself. I really love it.

I just love having the city at home… you notice things you may not notice during the day when it’s busy. Even something simple, like architecture … I’ll notice things like, uh, I’ve never noticed this before.

Is it getting older, or is there something meditative in repetition?

I like the way you said that … the meditative part. There is definitely a meditative element to this. Growing up, I will not lie. There are days when it seems, “Oh no.” This is any job. “Here we are watering the flowers again.” But for the most part these moments are insignificant. I enjoy being there.

I think part of it for me, I don’t look at just watering the flowers. I look at it like, I’m also a goodwill ambassador in a part of town. If anyone needs it, can I help? It could be an ambulance call, it could give someone a jump because his car is dead, it could be a conversation with a homeless person because they need someone to talk to. That’s what brings me joy. I talk a lot with the moon. Something comforting when I see the moon, it’s like, all is well.

Do you think that downtown baskets are added every year?

Obviously, this is the beauty they bring. I am constantly amazed at how people love flowers. When I started, I was pretty hilarious about everything – how much do people care about flowers in a big way? It soon became clear that people love flowers … I think it brings the city an element of pride. How many places do you visit where you see 270 beautiful hanging baskets of flowers in the city center?

Have you ever had one in memory of a loved one?

In memory of mom and dad. I lost both from cancer.

What did it mean to see this?

It meant a lot. Every time I saw it, it meant a lot. You are busy in life and sometimes you forget about the people you lost, the ones you loved. And when I do that, I had a reminder every night … the memory was alive.

Back to top button