Annual Dogwood Trail to light up next week

A pair of workers take a break in the shade near a dogwood tree off Jefferson Street in midtown Paducah on Tuesday. The 57th annual Dogwood Trail will see foliage around the city lit up starting April 12 and running through April 18.

One of Paducah’s most colorful traditions — the annual Dogwood Trail — starts next week, lasting from April 12-18.

The city has been marking the return of spring since 1964, when Mayor Dolly McNutt was inspired by a visit to a dogwood trail in Tennessee. The first trail was just two blocks long. Since then, the trail has grown to a 10-mile stretch that weaves through several Paducah neighborhoods.

“It’s become just a cherished tradition for us because it offers the first sign of spring and hope,” said Jackie Smith, co-director of the Dogwood Trail and a member of the Paducah Civic Beautification Board. “I think it’s especially important that everyone participates this year because we’ve all been through so much with COVID-19, we’ve all lost and been separated from loved ones. The trees blooming and the sign of spring just kind of represents to all of us hope and a new fresh start.”

Anyone along or outside the trail in Paducah — a map of which can be seen at www.paducahky.gov/dogwood-trail — with dogwoods, Japanese maples, red buds or weeping cherry trees or blooming garden areas featuring other flowering species is encouraged to light their foliage starting on April 12 through the end of the trail event on April 18.

Smith is especially hopeful that people outside the trail will participate this year, as the trail committee and she are scouting for next year’s trail.

“Sometimes we find beautiful trees, but if we don’t have the participation from the community to light up, then that street won’t be considered as part of the trail for the next year,” she said.

Judging of participating houses will take place on April 13 and 14. Letters will be taped to winners’ doors with instructions on how to claim a $50 cash prize. Four of the winners will be from along the trail and four will be from outside of the trail, Smith told The Sun.

The trail, Smith said, is big for Paducah tourism.

“A lot of times the Dogwood Trail coincides with the quilt show and it’s just a wonderful way for us to welcome visitors to the city,” she said. “When they see that everyone lights up, it makes them want to visit our community again.”

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