Petunia Pandemonium continues despite COVID, reduced volunteers

MARQUETTE — Southern Marquette has become more colorful, due to a longstanding tradition that continued today.

Petunia Pandemonium, now in its 32nd year, gathers volunteers to plant a multitude of flowers alongside US–41 in South Marquette.

According to the event coordinator, while the flowers are beautiful, they mean more than just something pretty to look at when entering Marquette.

“First of all, they’re beautiful,” said Barb Kelly, Petunia Pandemonium Chairperson. “And as you drive through you can even smell them if you have your windows down. But it sends a strong message that we love our community, and that just translates to people. They’re connected with wellness and happiness and joy, and people come through here and it just makes people happy.”

While the event usually draws around 500 volunteers, numbers were dialed back this year due to the coronavirus; social distancing protocols make those figures impossible to recreate. Normally, around 400 school-aged students would participate, but that was not the case this year.

The name of the event suggests only petunias are involved, but this year, over 25 different kinds of flowers were planted.

The committee hopes to bring the event back to its full volume next year.