From the neon safety vests of more than 150 workers to the piles of fresh sod to the plethora of new plants nestled in pine straw, the Beaufort Depot and Spanish Moss Trail were filled with green Wednesday.
"I just marveled at the incredible number of green vests swarming all over," said Dean Moss, one of the leaders of the trail effort.
The landscaping blitz was launched in preparation for the 10 a.m. Tuesday grand opening of the first mile of the trail, between Depot and Allison roads. The long-term goal is for the path to stretch from Port Royal to the Whale Branch River and possibly beyond.
The Greenery landscaping company donated approximately $17,000 worth of labor for the landscaping, primarily for the Wednesday morning effort. The workers ranged from laborers to office staff and came from as far away as Savannah.
"Rather than writing a check to someone, we can go out and show the community we're involved and our employee-owners can give back as well," president and CEO Lee Edwards said.
Zelda Wright, a foreman who works out of the Hilton Head Island office, said he's considering doing additional work on his days off.
"It's a charity thing, so we take pride in it," he said.
The Atlanta-based PATH Foundation helped design and plan the first mile, which will be used as a blueprint for future work.
The foundation is using a $567,000 grant from the James M. Cox Foundation. Jim Kennedy, the head of media conglomerate Cox Enterprises whose family has owned the Clarendon Plantation in Grays Hill for 50 years, arranged for the grant as well as a second one of up to $600,000 to match money raised locally by the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail.
Beaufort County has requested proposals for the next leg of the trail, which will head north, and Moss expects that contract should be decided by mid December. The city and county have obtained additional grants totaling $1.2 million for the trail, and Moss said the Friends are working on several fundraising efforts.