Atlanta’s Daffodil Plantings Commemorate International Holocaust Memorial

October 18,2017

Source: Eric Goldchein, Gather Good

If you want your weekend run through Atlanta to mean something, we’ve got the 5K for you.

On Saturday, Nov. 11, the Downtown Daffodil Dash 5K will take runners (and walkers, if that’s more your speed) past Atlanta icons, new developments, and, most importantly, hundreds of thousands of daffodils. The first ever Daffodil Dash taking place downtown, produced by Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District in association with Am Yisrael Chai, will raise funds and awareness for the Daffodil Project, a living worldwide memorial to victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Over the last few years, you may have noticed the daffodils that stretch across swaths of downtown Atlanta, forming a “ribbon of consciousness” from the Center for Civil and Human Rights to The King Center. Other newly planted daffodils can be found near various schools and synagogues around the city.

The yellow flowers planted en masse are the brainchild of Andrea Videlefsky, founder of the Daffodil Project and founding member and president of Am Yisrael Chai.

“The Downtown Daffodil project started in the fall of 2010 right here in Atlanta,” says Videlefsky. “To date, we’ve planted about 400,000 daffodils worldwide, including many places in Atlanta, many different states within the United States and internationally in Israel, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic and the Netherlands. We’re aspiring to plant 1.5 million daffodils in memory of the 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust, and also in support of children who continue to suffer in face of genocide and other humanitarian crises around the world today.”

According to Videlefsky, the timing of this year’s Daffodil Dash, which begins and ends in Woodruff Park, couldn’t be better.

“Especially with what’s going on currently with all these hate crimes and crimes against humanity on every level, both here and around the world, I think it’s an important way for people to take a stand and do something,” says Videlefsky. “It’s action-oriented: Actually planting the daffodils, and then their cycle of blooming. Their coming to bloom is a reminder to take a stand, to stand up for justice.”

For the past six years, the annual Daffodil Dash has taken place in Dunwoody (happening March 25, 2018). This year will be the first time the Dash will pick up a second location, and Videlefsky is excited for the opportunity to spread the message, particularly to the next generation.

“It’s a vehicle, a way of raising awareness and funds for the project to make it sustainable, and an opportunity for education and raising awareness for the project,” says Videlefsky.

The daffodils themselves—small, yellow flowers that evoke the stars—are a fitting symbol for the cause: They resemble the Stars of David that Jews were forced to wear to identify themselves in Nazi-occupied Europe. They also bloom for only a few weeks before wilting and waiting for next year’s season, reminding us of the brief lives that the children who perished in the Holocaust led.

Planting daffodils, Videlefsky finds, is a great way for urban areas—New York, New Orleans, and Chicago are just a few of the cities with daffodil sites—to enrich their neighborhoods as well as fill them with a deeper meaning.

“Many cities are looking to beautify their city, and this does that with a very important underlying significant meaning behind it,” Videlefsky says.

By that same token, the Daffodil Dash is a fun event that encourages exercise and activity, but it’s infused with a larger message that Videlefsky hopes will reach more people this year.

“We’re hoping that the other locations will also start hosting these dashes, around the country and around the world,” she says.

Part of the proceeds from the Dash will go to fund various organizations aiding children around the world, such as in South Sudan and Darfur. Part of the proceeds will also support the Holocaust survivor fund, to help survivors with their medical and dental needs as they age.

If enough people come out to the run, it’ll be just one more way that Atlanta comes up big in the service of honoring and celebrating the millions of children whose time has come too soon.

“The Downtown Daffodil Project has done, I would say, more than any other site,” says Videlefsky. “Downtown is the biggest site in the world [for the project.] They’ve just harnessed it in such an incredible way.”

Though November’s run will be about raising awareness and having fun, keep an eye out for downtown in spring. That’s when the daffodils will bloom again for a short time, lighting up the city’s parks, the tracks alongside the streetcar, and Atlanta’s various landmarks.