The town was in full bloom yesterday as out-of-town judges came to size up the quaint New England community against four other communities competing in a national floral contest.
Two judges from the nonprofit group America in Bloom saw everything from the balancing rock to Town Meeting notes from 1724.
Residents have spent months preparing for the visit.
â€œItâ€™s always beautiful,â€ said Mary Greendale, the Holliston in Bloom organizer. â€œItâ€™s just that there is more of it.â€
Judges have six criteria, which have to do with more than just flowers. They are evaluating the townâ€™s urban forestry, heritage preservation, environmental efforts, floral displays, landscaped areas and overall impression.
Judge Barbara Vincentsen, from New Jersey, yesterday said they rate a town against its own potential.
â€œWeâ€™re really scoring this town for what this town can do,â€ she said.
The real story, however, is how much work residents put into preparing for this weekâ€™s judging.
Resident Bobby Blair lined Main Street with flower baskets, which he said take between six and eight hours every other day to water.
Blair said selectmen gave him special permission to water during this weekâ€™s total watering ban.
Meanwhile, homeowners planted extra flowers and mowed lawns, and downtown shop owners swept their front steps.
â€œItâ€™s probably a little spruced up,â€ said Carl Damigella, who helped lead a morning bus tour. â€œBut this is basically the way the town looks.â€
Judges yesterday saw the Moon Tree, Poitras conservation land, Waushakum live model steam engines and several residentsâ€™ personal gardens, including a house on Church Street where a homeowner sculpted a squirrel out of a bush.
They also saw the home of Mark Ahronian, the townâ€™s tree warden and local landscaper who will travel in September to the America in Bloom award ceremony in Fayetteville, Ark.
The judges have already visited the other four towns Holliston is up against, which are in California, Kentucky and Missouri. The category is for towns with 15,001 to 25,000 residents.
Locals yesterday also showed off historic Town Hall, whose outside renovation is nearly complete. Greendale struggled to explain New Englandâ€™s love-hate relationship with its Town Meeting form of government to the out-of-town judges.
At the downtown cemetery, where Town Administrator Paul LeBeau has mapped all graves, judges saw new smartphone QR codes visitors can scan to read about local history on the Historical Societyâ€™s website.
The tour continued last night at the Bullard Memorial Farm for a game of Mudville baseball and is scheduled to continue today at the Fatima Shrine, Stoddard Park and Grove Lake cemetery.
(Laura Krantz can be reached at 508-626-4429 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)