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Detroit — Flower Day at Eastern Market isn't just a chance to buy garden perennials for Maria Perez-Bastian and her family.

"Knowing Flower Day is coming up gets us through our tough winters," said the Traverse City resident who drove more than five hours to come to Detroit on Sunday for the annual tradition.

They come prepared too, with straw hats and wagons and plenty of bungee cords. They put the tallest flowers at the top of the wagon, to make sure they can find each other in the sea of hundreds of people who cram into the sheds and streets at the market.

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The long drive and the crowds are completely worth it, though, said Perez-Bastian, who came with her daughter, husband and parents.

"This is such a great community thing," she said. "We used to live in Metro Detroit, so we were here as kids for the Saturday market. But this, this is an event."

For greenhouses, Flower Day is a chance to make big bucks and meet customers.

"We love coming here," said Bessie Newbery, owner of Gracias' Greenhouse in New Boston. "It's a whole nother atmosphere than the other markets."

They brought pallets and pallets of flowers and trays and Newbury was constantly running back and forth to replenish the supply that was being bought up. She expected they would be mostly sold out by 4 p.m.

"It's mass confusion, so it's fun," she said.

For Richard Gaier, of Gaier Farms and Greenhouse in Armada, the chance to see repeat customers coming back for his flowers is worth the chaos.

"It's exciting and invigorating," he said. "We're happy to have all the people coming in."

One of his satisfied customers, Jana Solecki, of Croswell, in Michigan's thumb, said she and her family make a day of coming to Eastern Market for Flower Day.

"It's a family tradition," she said. "They have everything you could imagine and the prices are really good."

After shopping for the flowers, they will grab some food nearby before heading home will their vans full of plants.

"Every year we say we're just going to buy a few," said Solecki. "And then we come with these huge vans and just fill them up."

Another shopper, Kristi Anderson of South Lyon, likes flowers so much that she named her 3-year-old daughter Juniper Rose. The two of them and her other daughter 5-year-old Tatum, were picking out hanging baskets for their house.

"They've got all their favorite colors," Anderson said of the girls' choice in basket. "Pink and purple."

lrazzaq@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2127

@laurenarazzaq

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