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Orban’s poinsettias put on their annual show

MANATEE -- ’Tis the season where families gather and look up and down for the perfect plant.

And it’s not just Christmas trees that get extra attention this time of year; the poinsettia has its fair share of shoppers as well.

For two decades Shirley Horvath has made the Orban’s Nursery a part of her holiday tradition by attending the annual poinsettia drive-through and sale.

“It’s been a part of my Christmas tradition ever since it started,” Horvath, 76, said. “I think the poinsettias they sell here are beautiful and much better than what you find at the store.”

Horvath, who was joined at the Saturday open house by her granddaughter, Heather Christie, 35, and her great-granddaughter, Marina, 22 months, usually arranges her flowers in front of her Anna Maria Island home.

But this year she is setting her sights a bit higher.

“I am hoping to hang them up around the house,” she said.

The event is the only time of year Orban’s opens up to the public, and this year a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Southeastern Guide Dogs.

The nonprofit was the beneficiary of the event two years ago and named a black and tan lab “Orban” in honor of the nursery.

“It means a lot to us because our school runs on donations,” said Alice Gross, a volunteer with Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Marty Orban, owner of the nursery, said people flock to this annual event not only to purchase but to simply look at over 100,000 blooming poinsettias.

“It brightens up the house and it’s part of the tradition,” Orban said.

While the Horvaths have already made Orban’s part of their holiday tradition, other patrons, such as Tammy Zielinski, are doing so for the first time.

“It’s a fun being out here. We got our Christmas picture done,” said Zielinski, who had her 6-year-old son Tyler and 3-year-old daughter Ava pose in front of the flowers.

Those who could not make the open house can still buy Orban’s poinsettias from Crowder Brothers Ace Hardware, 5409 Manatee Ave. W., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.