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Polish Garden’s stork finally gets a name

September 20, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — If the large white stork at Friendship Botanic Gardens seemed to smiling Sunday, it’s because he finally has a name.

“Florek” was introduced to the crowd at the Polish Heritage Festival on Sunday after a Chesterton woman won the naming rights.

Festival promoters explained that some 50,000 white storks migrate through Poland every year. They are considered to be a sign of good luck and harbingers of the arrival of newborn babies, according to Polish folklore.

The stork statue was added to the Polish Garden at Friendship Gardens last year, and the Polish Heritage Festival Committee held a “Name the Stork” contest as a promotion for this year’s event.

More than 300 entries were received – some from as far away as Texas and Delaware, festival chair Ann Scamerhorn said. They were judged on originality, cleverness, and essays about why the particular name was appropriate.

The committee narrowed the entries down to three, and “all were so impressive that outside help was enlisted,” Samerhorn said.

The judges were John Leinweber, president of Friendship Botanic Gardens’ Board of Directors; and Wendy Wilcox Kermen, whose father, Robert Wilcox, sculpted the original terra cotta bust of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, also featured in the Polish Garden.

The name Florek was suggested by Martha Colvin of Chesterton, who received a prize of $100, a plush stork beanbag and a certificate.

Her winning essay: “My name for the stork is ‘Florek.’ It is a Polish male name meaning ‘blooming” or ‘flowering.’ It is also a name of a village in Poland. I thought the name meaning ‘blooming’ or ‘flowering’ was appropriate for the Polish Garden at Friendship Botanic Gardens with all the amazing, beautiful flowers growing there.”

Plans are in the works for a plaque – featuring the stork’s new name and Colvin’s name – to be added in the future.

— From staff reports

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