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Garland of Roses: The Kroger Co. and Kentucky Derby’s prized possession gets ready for the races

“Months of planning come down to one crucial day of non-stop work for Belser, and her team of three, on the Friday before the Derby. Around 4 p.m. on May 2 at the Louisville Kroger location, Belser and her team will begin to assemble the garland. The team works throughout the night to complete the blanket.

Although there’s only a team of four on project, they’re not the only ones who are present on the night before the Derby. Last year, more than 6,000 people showed at the location to observe the team assemble her majesty.

The process of crafting the garland begins with more than 6,000 roses which the team needs to sift through in order to select only the brightest and best from the bunch. Whichever roses are left discarded are used to decorate the Winner’s Circle. The red rose choice changed from the Classy rose to the Freedom rose in 2008.

The Freedom rose, grown and cultivated for its bloom size and foliage, is described as a “perfect patriotic red” and was dubbed with the title following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in tribute to the victims, to those who responded that fateful day and those fought to protect our freedom at home and overseas.”

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