Meriden residents, organizations create Red Bridge of Flowers

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MERIDEN — If you’ve been to Red Bridge in South Meriden lately, you may have noticed a new look to the historic span thanks to a collaboration between Meriden residents and organizations. 

JoAnne Grabinski led the project to add flowers and artwork to the bridge after being tagged in a Facebook post last year. Lynne Cormier Vigue had visited Simsbury’’s Bridge of Flowers and thought it would be a great idea to do the same in Meriden. 

“We have a historical bridge in Meriden as well,” the post said. “Wouldn’t it be great if the community came together to decorate the Red Bridge with flowers? Maybe only red flowers to distinguish the bridge from others.” 

The bridge, which spans the Quinnipiac River and is located next to the intersection of River and Oregon roads, was built in 1891 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original iron truss bridge was eventually replaced by a concrete span and ceased carrying vehicular traffic. Red Bridge fell into disrepair before being restored and reopened as a local landmark in 2002.

Grabinski said a main reason for creating the Red Bridge of Flowers was to introduce a new place to residents and people from out of town. 

The bridge now features planters created by Wilcox Tech carpentry students and purple, red and white flowers that were donated by Casertano Farm in Cheshire,  who also donated flowers in downtown Meriden. 

Grabinski also received help from Gallery 53, which provided mosaics for the wall that enters into the adjacent linear trail, the Napier and Cuno foundations, Becky Marotelli, a certified master gardener, and Chris Bourdon, Meriden Parks and Recreation director.

“People can come here, enjoy it and then go explore the city,” Grabinski said. “They can stop at Ted’s for a steamed cheeseburger, Thompson’s Chocolate and get some ice cream at Les’. Who wouldn’t want to stop at Les’.” 

Grabinski said she was shocked and appreciative of the positive feedback she received on social media. One post had over 500 “likes” while another had over 800. 

Vigue has consistently shown her support for the project since the beginning. She said Grabinski did an incredible job organizing the project, securing funding and bringing an idea to reality. 

“I immediately drove to the bridge when it was completed,” Vigue said. “It almost brought tears to my eyes to see the community come together and create something so beautiful.” 

The 78-foot bridge was one of hundreds of lens shaped or lenticular truss bridges built by The Berlin Iron Bridge Co. in East Berlin. Out of the seven built in Meriden, Red Bridge is the only one still standing, according to Record-Journal archives.

Grabinski said this summer was a test just to see how things would work out, but she wants to eventually have flowers on the bridge for spring, summer and fall and to expand the area. 

“I’d love to see daffodils of course, Meriden’s signature flower,” she said. “Other people have suggested red tulips as well. I really want to just enhance this whole area.”

fwilliams@record-journal.com203-317-2373Twitter: @faith_williams2

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