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Oak Harbor Garden Club beautifies city with gazebo donation

Oak Harbor Garden Club members Claire Reed and Judy Biddle hold up a placard that will be installed on the new gazebo at Hal Ramaley Park. The club is gifting the structure to the city and a dedication ceremony is planned for Aug. 24. - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor Garden Club members Claire Reed and Judy Biddle hold up a placard that will be installed on the new gazebo at Hal Ramaley Park. The club is gifting the structure to the city and a dedication ceremony is planned for Aug. 24.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

While it may seem unlikely, the Oak Harbor Garden Club has managed to make downtown’s Hal Ramaley Park even lovelier.

The park is already beautiful, thanks to the countless hours club members have spent over the past 10 years maintaining its colorful gardens. But to complete the picture, the club has spent the past year working to acquire a 16-foot by 16-foot gazebo to install as the park’s centerpiece.

“I just love looking at it,” said Judy Biddle, chair of the club’s gazebo committee.

Gazing at the structure from one of the park’s benches with Claire Reed, who is the club’s civic improvement chair and was instrumental in the gazebo effort, the two couldn’t help but giggle that the structure is now there, having gone from dream to reality.

“It really happened,” Biddle said.

The club is donating the gazebo to the city and a dedication ceremony will be held onsite Aug. 24. Attending will be select city officials, from Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik to city council members. The An-o-Chords, a barbershop-men singing group, will also be there and is expected to give a special “surprise” presentation.”

Garden club volunteers began working on the gazebo project this past September. While the idea had been brewing for years, Reed said it didn’t become a real possibility until 2009. The club has numerous fundraisers each year, from plant sales to garden tours, and 50 percent of the funds go to its civic improvement group.

“That money was just mounting and mounting and I wanted to do something other than just putting plants somewhere,” Reed said.

After hammering out the details with city officials, such as who is responsible for maintenance, club members wrangled a deal from Amish Country Gazebos in California for a $10,500 structure.

Initially, Biddle and Reed said they’d planned to recruit their husbands to put the gazebo together but reconsidered when company officials estimated construction time at about one and a half days.

“I’m thinking, you don’t know my husband,” Reed said.

That may have been a wise decision, as the Oak Harbor Lions Club took on the project and it took a team of eight members about a week to complete the project.

“Every day I’d bring them pie and drinks; cheer them on,” Biddle said.

The gazebo was also wired for electricity so it can be used for a variety of functions, from small weddings to modest entertainment venues.

The dedication begins at 1 p.m., and along with remarks from dignitaries, the event will include a ribbon cutting and a presentation of certificates of appreciation for groups that assisted with the project. For more information, call the Oak Harbor Parks Department at 279-4576.

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