The 75th Royal Poinciana Festival

Traditions continue to blossom as Coral Gables holds 75th Royal Poinciana Fiesta

The Royal Poinciana Fiesta will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year.

The Royal Poinciana tree is Miami-Dade’s official flowering tree. The Royal Poinciana Festival, a four-day event marking the tree’s history in the city, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

What: Royal Poinciana Fiesta – luncheon, art show, and musicale

Where: Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables

When: 11:30 a.m., Friday

Tickets are $25 per person. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call Lynda La Rocca at 305-441-8589.

What: Tree Planting

Where: Volunteers will meet at the Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, located at SW 27th Ave. and U.S. 1.

When: 8:30 a.m., Saturday

For more information about the tree planting, call Steve Pearson at 305-233-3619.

What: Trolley Tour

Where: Trolley Tour will take visitors to see Poinciana trees in Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. The tour will depart from the Kampong, located at 4013 Douglas Rd., Coconut Grove.

When: Gates will open at 11:30 a.m., tours will depart at 1 p.m., Sunday

Tickets for the tour and entrance to the Kampong are $25 per person. Entrance to the Kampong is $8. Reservations for the tour are required. For more information, or to reserve, call Carol at 305-258-1086.

What: Fiesta

Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables

When: 7 p.m., Monday

Admission to the event is free for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden members and $5 for non-members. Reservations are not required.

BY STEPHANIE PARRA
SPARRA@MIAMIHERALD.COM
This year marks the 75th anniversary for the Royal Poinciana Fiesta, known to many as Miami’s oldest festival. It all started with David Fairchild, who is credited for introducing Poinciana trees to the city and held the first Royal Poinciana Festival in 1937 to celebrate the blooming flowering trees.

“I think the tree Poinciana tree is symbolic of tropical Florida,” said Lynda La Rocca, president of the Tropical Flowering Tree Society, which will present the Fiesta. “We’re celebrating the beauty of it and how it brings us into summer.”

The society, a non-profit organization founded in 1988 for flowering tree aficionados, collects, develops and spreads the word about tropical flowering trees like the Royal Poinciana.

Events begin Friday with a luncheon, art show and musicale at the Coral Gables Art Museum.

Starting at 8:30 Saturday morning, volunteers are scheduled to plant flowering trees alongside U.S. 1. TREEmendous Miami, a nonprofit organization that aims to enhance the city’s greenery, is organizing the event. Participants will meet at the Coconut Grove Metrorail Station at Southwest 27th Avenue and U.S. 1. Volunteers are required to be at least 18.

On Sunday, a Trolley Tour will take participants to see blooming Poinciana trees in Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. Those interested in participating in the tour will meet at the Kampong, Fairchild’s former home in Coconut Grove. The Kampong, 4013 Douglas Rd., will open at 11:30 a.m. Tours will start at 1 p.m.

The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., will host the Fiesta’s final event at 7 p.m. June 4. The evening will commence with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. It will also feature a jazz performance and an art show, featuring paintings from local artists.

College scholarships will be awarded to three female students. One student will be dubbed the Royal Poinciana Queen, and the other two will be crowned as Princesses. Selections are based on school recommendations, an application, essay and a personal interview. Nominations were accepted from both private and public schools.

Many believe Fairchild’s wife Marian Bell Fairchild was known to have planted the one of the oldest Poinciana trees in the city.

Alexander Graham Bell’s youngest daughter, she lived with David in their home in Coconut Grove, known as the Kampong, until their deaths.

During his lifetime, Fairchild also founded the Office of Seed and Plant Introduction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington.

The Royal Poinciana, also known as the flamboyant, the flame tree, or the peacock tree, is Miami-Dade County’s official flowering tree.

Larry Schokman, director emeritus of the Kampong, said there are more Royal Poincianas in Miami than in Madagascar, where the trees are originally from. Today, the trees in Madagascar are endangered by deforestation. .

The fiesta’s events “say something about trying to save trees around the world,” La Rocca says.

Proceeds collected from the festival will benefit the scholarships and cover costs for the event.

“We are trying to make Miami the flowering tree capital of the world,” Schokman said. “We want to beautify Miami and enhance our city.”

Other sponsors include the Coral Gables Garden Club and the Coral Gables Music Club.

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