The last of 250 metal poppies was installed Friday at the Livingston County Veterans Monument constructed at the county’s Hamptons Corners Complex, 4389 Gypsy Lane.
Construction is largely complete on the project and a dedication is being planned for Nov. 11, said Livingston County Veterans Services Director Jason Skinner.
Some final touch-up work is still needed along with the mapping of each metal poppy so that visitors will be able to find a specific poppy. Each poppy is tagged in honor of a veteran.
“It’s a project for veterans that he been built by veterans,” said Skinner, who originally conceived of the project.
Local veterans, including those from Genesee and Wyoming counties, and family members had volunteered to make the poppies – even though many had no prior experience in metal working. They learned the ropes from Genesee Valley BOCES Metal Trades instructor Olie Olson, who kept his classroom open after school hours and led the veterans through the metal-working process at the Mount Morris Career and Technical Education Center.
The veterans would ultimately cut the metal, weld the poppies and paint them. Each poppy is unique, with some having additional adornments reflective of the veterans service.
Creation of the poppies began in February 2019 and was completed last fall.
The poppies are installed on a concrete pad painted to resemble an American flag. The metal poppies will be placed win the shape of the flag, with the red-painted poppies representing the stripes.
The poppies, when viewed from a particular perspective, will appear to be a flag unfurling in the breeze. The poppies will be installed in a manner that allows them to rotate with the wind.
“There are a lot of great little pieces to the story,” said Skinner.
Metal Trades students helped with preparation work for the poppies and this fall with the installation, working alongside several veterans.
Members of the Livingston County Highway Department prepared the site off Route 63 for the monument, and four local concrete companies pooled their resources in pouring the concrete pad. Highway Department employees then painted the pad in red, white and blue to resemble a flag.
The project was originally going to feature 100 metal poppies, but became so popular that it needed a larger space. The number of poppies was eventually capped at 250.
“From the time the idea was presented, it just spurred more support, more volunteers,” said Skinner.
It also meant the need for a larger area to erect the monument. Skinner thanked the Board of Supervisors for supporting the initial concept and continuing to support the project as it grew.
The monument was originally planned to be dedicated on Veterans Day 2019, but was canceled due to winter storm warnings. Undeterred, members of the Geneseo American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars post helped organize an impromptu raising of the flag, or a “Call to Colors,” over the monument – and poppies that had been temporarily installed in wooden holders – on the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day. About 40 people gathered in temperatures below freezing amid wind-whipped snow for the brief ceremony.
The upcoming dedication ceremony will require masks and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No food will be available and it is expected to be kept short, said Skinner.