River of Flowers back for 10th quake anniversary

The Bridge of Remembrance. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The Bridge of Remembrance. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Ten years of water may have passed under the Bridge of Remembrance since the 2011 quake, but it and 12 other riverside sites will again play an important role in Monday's anniversary.

The annual River of Flowers event will bring people together to mark the 10th anniversary of the February 22, 2011, earthquake, and remember the 185 people who lost their lives.

Michelle Whitaker, of Flourish, which has been involved in the event since 2012, said it is a chance for Christchurch people to "acknowledge the changes we’ve gone through, share memories and support each other while recognising the inescapable passing of time".

This year the River of Flowers event will be held at 12 sites across Christchurch. "Messages of Hope" can be composed and tied to a tree or bridge in addition to the annual floral tribute.

Whitaker said it’s an opportunity for people to reflect, connect, share experiences and think about their hopes for the future.

"The messages on the Trees of Hope make inspiring reading,” she said.

"We’ve all had different earthquake experiences, but what is to be celebrated is how hard we’ve all worked to get through the challenges we’ve faced over the last 10 years."

Tom McBrearty lived on River Rd for 32 years and takes part in the event every year.

He says the day brings back memories and renews friendships.

"Over the years, it’s always brought back a core group of people who knew and loved each other in their own way.

"It’s great to see some of them aging disgracefully and enjoying life, and yet still have that strong emotional bond to the river and this place."

McBrearty says reconnecting with the people he may only see once a year is important and helps to let the past go.

"It connects the dots. The flowers are taking some of the memories along the river," he said.

Open from 8am to 8pm, each site will be hosted by community groups from 12.30pm-1.30pm who will provide additional support to those attending.

At 12.51pm on Monday, a 2min silence will be observed to remember those lost.

Cantabrians are invited to bring their own flowers or pick up one of the stems supplied.

A full list of sites can be found here.

Flourish Kia Puāwai and Avon-Otākaro Network, with support from All Right? and Christchurch City Council.

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