Garland of Roses florist Reflects on Long Career, Upcoming Retirement

MIDDLETOWN, Ky. — Out of 5,000 stems of Freedom Roses, only about 450 will make the cut to become a symbol of the Kentucky Derby: the Garland of Roses.

It’s been made by Kroger every year since 1987.

Two of the hands that so carefully make it happen belong to a woman whose kind and gentle wisdom grab your attention. Her name is Carol Belser.

“We want them to be very secure, so they won’t fly off the garland of roses,” she said Friday as she demonstrated the process.

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