Dusten Rader/For The Recorder
From left, Volunteer Vicki Kucel, James Dempsey AIFD, CFD of Studio Herbage Florist of Johnstown, Volunteer Anna Ilnicki, and employee of Studio Herbage Florist Loretto Thum.

By DUSTEN RADER

For The Recorder

JOHNSTOWN — Area residents heading through Johnstown on Wednesday morning were surprised by a pay-it-forward style gesture when they were asked to Petal it Forward.

The annual event, hosted across the country, sees florists such as Studio Herbage Florist of Johnstown give away free bouquets of flowers to passersby. Each recipient is provided with two bouquets — one for themselves and one to give to someone else.

According to James Dempsey AIFD, CFD of Studio Herbage Florist, he organized a group of employees and volunteers to hit the streets of Johnstown to promote the Petal it Forward program that more than 200 florists nationwide host annually.

“Really what it’s about is to put a smile on someone’s face,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey and his team handed out dozens of bouquets to area residents, some of which became emotional. Most of the recipients were grateful, and returned the gesture with a hug. Others outright refused, saying that nothing in life is free.

“They were all teared up,” Dempsey said. “It’s been interesting to see the different opinions on how to accept gifts. We will definitely do this again next year. We’re 100 percent behind the mission of Petal it Forward.”

Dempsey’s team included Volunteer Vicki Kucel, Volunteer Anna Ilnicki, and employee of Studio Herbage Florist Loretto Thum.

When Thum handed two bouquets to Johnstown lawyer Allen Day, he said the flowers would be the perfect surprise for his wife who was returning from London that day.

Each bouquet included LA Lilies, sunflowers, and assorted greens.