Almost 12 years ago, on April 21, 2001, what is proclaimed to be the "World's Largest Flower Box," made its debut in Neosho. But it took a lot of work to make it happen.
In those days, Neosho still took pride in its flower box program, and the idea of adding to the program came from within the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce. John Wright was the project developer and mainstay in the project. Chamber of Commerce Director Gib Garrow and City Manager Jim Cole were also instrumental in the project.
Wright took on the project and began writing letters to various groups and organizations. He approached the Kansas City Railroad Co. to start the process of getting a gondola car to be used as the actual flower box.
Support was sought from Joe Mickes, district engineer for the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission, and from Lt. Charles White, of the Missouri National Guard's 203rd Engineer Battalion.
A local committee was put together to decide all the details, including the selection of a location for the big flower box. The committee consisted of Joe Weston, Barry Koch, Pam Barkley, Bettie Gray, Leroy Schantz, Norman Gabel, Twyla Clark, and John Wright. The committee included representatives from the city, the Flower Box Committee, the Community Betterment Council and the Chamber of Commerce.
Sites considered for the flower box were Big Spring Park, the fish hatchery, the high school, the Kansas City Depot and the junction of "old highway 60 and 71 highway." As it turned out, of course, none of these sites were chosen, as the flower box was placed north of the old Neosho Nurseries site on North College Street.
After much waiting, the World's Largest Flower Box became a reality. John Wright and his committee accepted the railroad car in August of 2000. According to a Kansas City Southern official, the gondola car is 66 feet long and eight feet wide. It has a volume of 250 cubic yards and weighs about 25 tons.
When the gondola car was finally in place, several groups helped get it ready for the spring planting season of 2001. Hidden Valley Sign Company of Neosho donated the 30-foot sign that still denotes the flower box. Such businesses as Flower Box Greenhouse, The Botany Shop, Fausett Greenhouses, Orscheln Farm and Home Supply, Ace Hardware, Crowder College, students from Neosho High School, Haggard Excavation, the Neosho Garden Club and the City of Neosho all helped with plants, lumber, a sprinkler system and, most importantly, labor.
On April 21, there was a "Bag of Dirt" day and all citizens were encouraged to bring dirt for the flower box. Red Carpet Real Estate and Arvest Bank provided a lunch for the public that day. Pete Williams, a local woodworker, provided a free flower box to the first 100 people to bring a bag of dirt.
Page 2 of 2 - The last of the painting was done, dirt was added and the flower box was made ready for planting, which was the responsibility of Troy Treece, city gardener and other city workers. And when the time came, the gardeners did a great job.
There was talk of entering it into the Guinness Book of World Records, but that never happened—although it may not be too late.
The World's Largest Flower Box has stood the test of time and is still adding beauty to the Flower Box City.