West Point florist Scott Reed never thought his first trip to Washington, D.C. would be for such an esteemed reason — to decorate The White House for Christmas.
Reed, owner of Petal Pushers, which provides an “out of the ordinary” shopping experience in floral arrangements, gifts and antiques, received official correspondence from The White House last week that he was accepted into the 2017 holiday volunteer program.
“I’ve always worked with design,” Reed said. “And I just remember hearing about this program years ago and thinking ‘how neat would it be to be a part of something like this?'”
The program, he said, is divided between two teams — a preparation team that volunteers the week before Thanksgiving and a decoration team that volunteers the week after Thanksgiving to prepare the interior of the White House for the holidays.
His desire to be a part of the decoration process is bipartisan.
Reed first applied to the volunteer program, unsuccessfully, during George W. Bush’s last term in office and reapplied during Barack Obama’s two terms. At the time he sent his application during Obama’s administration, he said, the holiday volunteer team was already selected.
“I just made a promise to myself, that no matter who won the last election, I would start the application process early,” Reed said. “I started as soon as the election ended.”
Although Reed recently received correspondence about being selected, he said he noticed things started to fall into place during the months leading up to the official notice. But when he found out, he was filled with both excitement and nervousness.
“It was really exciting to see something that I’ve wanted to do for so long come to be,” Reed said. “But I was automatically a little bit nervous because, well, I’m decorating the White House.”
Reed leaves for D.C. the day after Thanksgiving and will stay for four days as he completes his decorative duties, in hopes to ensure a successful White House Christmas.
Background and early career
When Reed was in high school, he spent a lot of his free time working at The West Point Flower Shop, he said. Originally starting out as a delivery driver, Reed quickly began learning how to craft floral arrangements and has since been involved in floral design.
Reed graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in ornamental horticulture with plans to open a retail nursery business in West Point. However, in 2002, he opened Petal Pushers instead.
His shop, located at 651 Commerce St., now specializes in flowers, jewelry, gifts, interiors and garden. It serves a variety of clients — including brides and bridal parties — and creates arrangements for different events as well.
Although Reed is ready to take on his role on the White House holiday volunteer team, he said he’s experiencing a little bit of “owner’s guilt,” as he prepares to leave his store for D.C.
However, he said, he is grateful for a staff of 15 he knows will step up during his time away and make sure business operates smoothly.
“I’m just so honored to be chosen to do this, especially after trying unsuccessfully a few times,” Reed said. “I know my staff is just as excited as I am too.”
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