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WATERLOO — As the saying goes, “Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you.”

The Petal It Forward program may not be exactly what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had in mind, but receiving a fresh flower bouquet is certain to bring smiles to faces and lift spirits.

On Oct. 24, Petersen & Tietz Florists and Greenhouses employees will share the power of flowers by hitting city sidewalks in Waterloo and Cedar Falls to hand out 500 free bouquets to passersby.

The giveaway will be from 8 to 10 a.m. “We’re randomly spreading joy, and it will be 100 percent random. We’re going out and seeking out people to receive the flowers — we’ll be a flash mob with flowers,” said Gina Whipple, flower shop manager. “We have one group that will be handing out bouquets in downtown Waterloo and another group in downtown Cedar Falls. We hope to brighten people’s day.”

Petersen & Tietz is joining forces with more than 450 florists across the country in this acts-of-kindness effort, she explained.

Each person will receive two bouquets — one to keep and a second to share with a family member or friend, or a random someone.

“We’re also lining up a few pop-up locations like one at the Waterloo Public Library for handing out bouquets. At this point, we’re still coordinating more places around the Cedar Valley to do that,” Whipple said.

This is the florist shop’s first year in the program. Previously Petersen & Tietz participated in Good Neighbors Day and gave out 100 dozen roses — one dozen to keep, another dozen to give away — to the first people who came in the shop’s door.

The Petal It Forward program is in response to research data from the Society of American Florists that shows the emotional benefits of flowers.

An SAF survey of more than 2,500 Americans gauged the power of flowers as a positive force. Approximately 88 percent of respondents reported that giving flowers made them feel happy, while 80 percent said receiving flowers made them feel happy. The first Petal It Forward event took place in 2015.

In 2017, floral teams participated in 573 local events in 467 cities in all 50 states and Canada, according to the SAF website, www.safnow.org.

“It’s such a positive experience, whether you’re giving or receiving flowers, and has such a positive impact on people and their happiness,” Whipple explained.

Simply being around flowers at home or in the workplace can improve or brighten a person’s mood, said 76 percent of survey respondents.

“It’s nice to have an opportunity like Petal It Forward where we can get out there and positively impact people in our community,” Whipple said. She expects the wrapped bouquets will be a blast of “happy, cheerful bright colors.”

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