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Sue Pulse

Sue Pulse of The Flower Pot in Castle Rock prepares more than 100 small bouquets for 'Petal It Forward' Wednesday, where local florists surprise business owners, customers and even strangers with free flowers. 

With several dozen flowers in hand, the staff of Jansen Floral Effects in Longview took to the streets Wednesday afternoon to surprise unsuspecting passersby with two free bouquets. The only condition: One of the bouquets must be passed along to someone else.

“This is a way in which we can hand out two bouquets to an individual, and they can feel the emotion (of receiving flowers) and the impact that flowers have on another person,” said Barbara Cross, owner of Jansen Floral Effects.

Cross was one of three Cowlitz County florists to sign her shop up for “Petal It Forward,” an annual event sponsored by the Society of American Florists where participating shops hand out free bouquets and encourage the recipients to do the same.

The event is aimed at raising consumer awareness that flowers make people happy and relieve stress, according to the society.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to be exposed to flowers,” Cross said. “I’ve always said flowers speak emotions. They really do.”

Sue Pulse of The Flower Pot in Castle Rock and Nicollette Dobbe of Holland America Flowers in Woodland also joined the Petal It Forward event.

“Flowers are something to give people to have them feel joy ... This is just something that helps people understand that even more,” said Pulse, who has participated in the event for the last three years. “They have the pleasure of knowing how it feels to receive flowers, and then they also get to understand how it feels to give flowers to someone else.”

Cross, who signed on to the event for the first time this year, said she loved watching how her free bouquets brightened people’s days. She said she hopes to prepare even more bouquets for the event next year.

“So much is going on in society today, but this is a good, positive event,” Cross said. “I think it will definitely have a positive impact on people’s days and their lives.”

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