TRUMBULL, Conn. — At first, Zoeli Farkas was a little skeptical of the smiling woman who was trying to place two bouquets of flowers into his hands outside a Quality Street storefront Wednesday morning.
“What’s it going to cost me?” the Fairfield man asked.
The answer? Nothing.
As part of Pay It Forward week, staff and volunteers from City Line Florist stationed themselves in well-traveled areas across the region, handing out free bouquets as part of their “Petal It Forward” program.
Nicole Palazzo, who owns the Trumbull florist shop with her mom, Susan, said they expected to hand out more than 100 bouquets, offering lucky strangers one arrangement to keep and one to give to someone else.
“Wow. It’s beautiful,” said Farkas, once Raeann McLaren explained why she came up to him with an armload of blooms. “I’m going to give them to my honey.”
Palazzo’s future in-laws, Debbie and Wayne Bradford who live in Great Britain and happened to be in town visiting, said they were happy to join in on the positive project.
“I think they told me someone did this in New York last year,” said Debbie Bradford. “It’s great.”
Nicole’s father, Bob Palazzo, said he started loading the flowers to be given away at about 6:30 a.m. The group planned to visit sites in Shelton, Stratford, Trumbull, Fairfield and Bridgeport throughout the morning and into the afternoon until all the bouquets — featuring roses, lilies and season garden mixes — were gone.
Many see Pay It Forward Week as a time to secretly pay for the coffee of a stranger in the next car at a drive-through or buy a cookie for a fellow diner at a restaurant. As a florist, Palazzo said she believes Petal It Forward gives people a lasting gift of happiness.
In fact, the Petal It Forward program at City Line is in partnership with the Society of American Florists, a national trade association. According to Palazzo, Petal It Forward is a response to new research showing the emotional benefits of flowers.
“We see the positive impact day in and day out when we make our flower deliveries,” she said of City Line, which has been around since 1918. “People love to get flowers ‘just because.’”
Her future sister-in-law, Georgia Bradford, said she enjoyed the confused looks on recipients’ faces.
“Nothing’s free anymore, is it?” she said.
“Nothing but the air,” said her dad.