- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2002

Mother's Day formalized 88 years ago with a proclamation from President Woodrow Wilson is a yearly bonanza for the region's roadside vendors selling bouquets of flowers to sons and daughters who put off buying their moms a gift until the very last minute.
"Everybody waits 'til the last minute," said Tina Lollis, 25, of Pickens, S.C., working under a canvas shade on New York Avenue NE, east of Bladensburg Road.
It was 2 p.m. Not much left of Mother's Day. But there was no shortage of customers. Mrs. Lollis, in fact, had just sold a pink potted mum to Seneta Watley, 37, of Laurel, and stuck a heart-shaped "Happy Mother's Day" sign into the pot.
"Today was better than yesterday," said Mrs. Lollis.
Prices were no apparent deterrent. Six rose blossoms were going for $10. Balloons with teddy bears holding little teddies or heart-shaped "I Love You" signs were selling for $20 or $25.
Donald McCoy, 38, bought the whole ball of wax flowers, a balloon and a teddy bear with a sign that said, "You're the best Mom." He was a late customer at the open-air Teresa's Garden Center in the 1500 block of New York Avenue NE.
Mr. McCoy said he had no choice but to buy his gifts a little on the tardy side. "I work two jobs," he said. "This is my first day off in three weeks."
Antoine Mitchell, 32, of North Capitol Street NW had to be at work in an hour, but he stopped at the sidewalk stand at the corner of New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE and bought a teddy bear to go with a card and T-shirt reading "Behind this shirt is the best Mom in the world."
"I had gotten something for her earlier," Mr. Mitchell said, expecting that a pair of shoes would be a good combination with other gifts from his two sisters and 10-year-old brother.
Minutes later, Dernal Jones, 23, of Landover drove up, parked and purchased two flower bouquets "One for Mom and one for my wife."
Brenda Jackson, who had set up the stand at 9 a.m. and was sitting in the warm sunshine on a plastic crate, estimated she had sold 30 balloons, 25 flower bouquets and about 25 T-shirts of the most popular sizes.
"A lot of people wait until Mother's Day," said F. D. Matthews, 47, of Alexandria, a tow-truck driver who was there to help his longtime friends at Teresa's.
"They come in here, grab something and go on to Mom's," Mr. Matthews said.
According to the floral industry, if you told Mom you loved her with flowers from a stand yesterday, that message arrived courtesy of a small army of people deployed from South America to Miami.
Most of the roses, carnations, mums and other flora en route to American moms this week were grown in Colombia and Ecuador, refrigerated, trucked to planes, flown to South Florida and distributed through an elaborate network designed to deliver fresh flowers thousands of miles away.
During the crunch times Valentines Day and Mother's Day UPS Air Cargo's freighters from Colombia and Ecuador are filled to the brim with flowers to meet the demand, said Tom O'Malley, vice president of Latin American air cargo, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based United Parcel Service.
About 110 million pounds of flowers make their way to the U.S. each year from UPS flights alone.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.


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