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Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Decking the halls of Upper Duval

Three and a half blocks of Upper Duval Street now shine a little brighter this holiday season, thanks to the 30 or so holiday wreaths elegantly lining -- and lighting -- both sides of the street from the Atlantic Ocean to the 1100 block.

This is the third year the wreaths have encircled the tops of the street lamps, and Sam Trophia, co-owner of the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, is hoping someday to see them stretch the entire length of Duval Street.

Trophia and his partner George Fernandez launched the wreath project in 2011 in an effort to beautify the block in front of their conservatory. The pair met with the city's Community Services Director, Greg Veliz, to find out how they would go about getting the wreaths installed on the light posts in the 1300 block of Duval Street.

"Greg Veliz and his guys have really been making it happen for the past three years," Trophia said Tuesday, after adding an additional eight wreaths to the roster this year. "The city puts them up, takes them down and stores them for us."

But it's been up to Trophia to solicit involvement and support from neighboring businesses.

"We went door to door earlier this year, asking businesses to donate $475 for a wreath," Trophia said. "My goal was to get the wreaths to reach Truman Avenue so the entire Upper end of Duval would be covered, but maybe next year."

The project began with an initial 16 wreaths in 2011. Others were added last year with supports from businesses including nearby guest houses, hotels, car rental agencies, cafes and art galleries. An additional eight were installed this year, thanks to tour companies and residents Dennis Beaver and Bert Whitt.

"We're getting there," said Trophia, who was also proud of another installation that took place recently at Higgs Beach.

The nonprofit Trophia Butterfly Foundation, which has several planted butterfly gardens at schools and public buildings around town, recently replaced some of the Australian pine trees that were removed from Higgs Beach.

"So many people were upset that those pine trees had to go," Trophia said. "So I called my board and within an hour had a unanimous vote that we would donate seven 14-foot trees, valued around $2,500, to the county for the beach playground."

For more information, visit thetrophiabutterflyfoundation.org.

mmiles@keysnews.com

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