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Bok Tower Gardens celebrates 85th anniversary with free admission Feb. 1

by Banks Lee

bok tower gardens brass door

Enjoy free admission and a special Dedication Day ceremony on Feb. 1 as Bok Tower Gardens commemorates its 85th anniversary. Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham will be in attendance.

Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark, dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge on Feb. 1, 1929 as a gift to the American people from Pulitzer Prize-winning author, humanitarian and world peace advocate Edward Bok. Bok’s grandmother told him to “make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it,” which he did throughout his lifetime, and it still guides the Gardens’ mission today.

According to Garden’s president David Price, Edward Bok’s vision to create a garden as a sanctuary for people and wildlife is as important and relevant in today’s world as it was 85 years ago. “We’re celebrating not only Bok’s gift, but also the public that has loved, protected, and supported this place. And we’re honored to have special guests in attendance including Bob Graham, former governor and senator of Florida, who will speak during our Dedication ceremony at 11 a.m.”

Japanese drummers will perform at 10:15 a.m. to invite all present to the Singing Tower for a ceremony featuring the presentation of the colors by the Lake Wales High School JROTC, followed by the singing of “America the Beautiful” by Amelia Updike, community volunteer and friend of Bok Tower Gardens. Father Tom Seitz, Jr. from the Church of the Good Shepherd in Lake Wales will give the invocation, and the City of Lake Wales will present a proclamation declaring the first week of February as “Bok Tower Gardens Week.”

Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham will speak about the rich history and passion of Edward Bok and the historical importance of Bok Tower Gardens to the State of Florida. This will be followed by a major announcement affecting the future of the Gardens.

Dundee Ridge Middle School “Select Choir,” directed by Cathy Montero, will perform together with Geert D’hollander on the Singing Tower carillon. Complimentary refreshments will be served immediately following the ceremony.

Other Dedication Day activities include:

• Free Pinewood Estate tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Free greenhouse tours from 1 to 5 p.m.
• Free conservation tours at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 p.m.
• Family tree planting event at 2 p.m. in honor of Bok’s enduring interest in nature
• Distribution of 2,500 longleaf pine seedlings for visitors to plant at home
• “A Look Back” exhibit in the Visitor Center featuring lesser-known facts, stories and photographs from throughout the Gardens’ 85-year history

Bok Tower Gardens is open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Visitor Center, Blue Palmetto Café and Tower & Garden Gift Shop are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 863-676-1408 or visit BokTowerGardens.org for more information.

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