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UFCW Kentucky florist to retire after over 30 years of derby rose garlands

May 6, 2019 Updated: September 8, 2020

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05: Jockey Mike Smith celebrates atop of Justify #7 after winning the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

UFCW Local 227 member Carol Belzer has worked for decades as a talented florist at Kroger, where every year she helps craft the iconic Kentucky Derby rose garland.

Carol has had a hand in every derby garland since 1987. Recently, she appeared on tv talking about her upcoming retirement and how it feels to be trusted with making the famous “Garland of Roses.”

“Seeing that blanket of roses placed across that winning thoroughbred, that is such a warm, touching feeling,” she said in an interview with WDRB.

The derby’s rose garland has a history that dates back to 1896, when winner Ben Brush received an arrangement of white and pink roses. Red roses became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904, and UFCW members at Kroger have been crafting the garland since 1987.