Brian VanPatten: the horticulturist with a heart
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 By Amy McMillan
If you walk into the lobby of the Merkley Visitor’s Center on any given day, you will see a whiteboard titled “For-Mar Sightings” that records the various wild animals our visitors have seen in the Nature Preserve and Arboretum throughout the season. The list at this time of year typically includes deer, rabbits, squirrels, the occasional fox, and several species of birds. On Saturday, February 12, 2011, I personally witnessed the introduction of an entirely new “species” at the For-Mar Arboretum: Cupid.
For 17 hours and 18 minutes, until 4:33 a.m., in temperatures ranging from a high of 30 degrees to wind chills of 15 degrees, the Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission’s very own horticulturist, Brian VanPatten, played Cupid, hosting the “Cold Hands, Warm Hearts Tree Hugging Contest.” It was part of an entire year of activities and special events celebrating For-Mar NatureCenter’s 40th anniversary.
Amanda Harrington and Nathan Weber outlasted seven other couples to win the contest. Their prize? A great story to someday tell their children and grandchildren, PLUS a wedding package valued at more than $2,600, donated by local sponsors.
Thank you to all who participated in this amazing event, and congratulations, Amanda and Nathan!