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Julie Vance
Indy 500 Wreath Is Proud Part of Indiana Woman’s Blossoming Business

Note: This is a series of stories at highlighting Women’s History Month in March.

Julie Vance is a female business owner who helps keep one of the greatest traditions of the Indianapolis 500 alive and flourishing every year by creating the winner’s wreath.

Vance is the owner and operator of Buck Creek in Bloom, a full-service florist in Yorktown, Indiana, about 60 miles northeast of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Her wreath is an integral part of the Victory Circle spoils of victory that include the Borg-Warner Trophy and the bottle of milk.

The tradition of the Indianapolis 500 wreath began in 1960 with a design by William J. Cronin. Vance has carried the torch for the last 32 years, continuing a tradition and building a sense of pride and joy within her.

Vance said the wreath showcases her hard work building her business over the years since she opened it in 2007 in Yorktown, her hometown.

“It is the most exciting thing in my life,” Vance said. “It brings attention and business. It represents lots of years and hard work because there is a lot behind it. It brings pride to Yorktown. The wreath has been with me longer than most things. It’s consistent in my life.

“The wreath means history and tradition of the Indy 500. It’s such a blessing, and I’m so proud of it.”

To showcase all of her hard work, Vance has a “Wall of Fame” in her shop. This wall includes pictures and autographs of the last 15 or so Indianapolis 500 winners with the wreath around their neck.

Vance said she feels like the wreath is a family member that she has to drop off at the racetrack ahead of race weekend. She said it feels like Christmas morning when she sees it around the winner's neck.

“It blows people away that it is my wreath on the winners,” she said.

The wreath’s origins stem from Europe, as races there honored winners with a wreath or flowers across the shoulder. BorgWarner started this tradition at the Indy 500 in 1960. Cronin, who made the wreath for 29 years, created a different style wreath every year.

Now with Vance at the helm since 1992, it is the same wreath year after year: 33 white cymbidium orchids, white checkered flags, red, white and blue ribbon, and greenery.

Building the wreath is not a quick process. Vance puts lots of hard work into keeping this Indy 500 tradition going: It takes time for her to find the perfect flowers, which are all fresh, too. Once the flowers are sourced, building the wreath takes seven hours of painstaking work.

What might be a little-known fact is that Vance makes two Indy 500 wreaths – one to be used in Victory Lane on Indy 500 Race Day and another to be used in the winner’s photo shoot the day after the race.

Vance is proud of her work with IMS, BorgWarner and the Indy 500 winner’s wreath, and she’s proud of what it represents for her and her life. This March, during Women’s History Month, she said it has even more significance.

“It means a lot to me, because I am a woman business owner,” Vance said. “I’ve seen what women have evolved from. I love that women can make a difference. I’m a single mom, and I’ve had a business for 15 years. I’m proud that we have stayed open after businesses closed over the last few years.”

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