By Amanda Wolkin

Despite an overcast sky and a steady drizzle the morning of June 9, nine Sandy Springs women, including Mayor Eva Galambos and Dist. 2 City Councilwoman Dianne Fries, were nothing but smiles as they gathered in the parking lot of Parkside Shopping Center to celebrate what would have been Anne Frank’s 81st birthday.

“If Anne Frank could survive what she did, I can survive a little rain,” said Executive Director of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Sylvia Wygoda, laughing.

Anne, a young Jewish girl, and members of her family hid from the Nazis during World War II in secret rooms in a building in Amsterdam. The Frank family eventually was discovered and forced into a concentration camp, where Anne later died. She left behind a diary chronicling her experience. The Anne Frank in the World Exhibit, which tells her story, is located in the Sandy Springs shopping center.

The ladies planted a series of Knock Out roses and lantanas in a plot in the middle of the parking lot to honor Frank and celebrate her love of nature—a subject that was repeated throughout her diary.

The project was led by Environmentalist Coordinator of Keep North Fulton Beautiful, Inc, Debbie Brennan. Lowes of Sandy Springs donated the plants.

While the volunteers, who also included Viki Staley, Director of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, gardened, several Anne Frank in the World Exhibit docents, including Kaethe Solomon, Linda Smiley and Susan Eckert, read quotes from Frank’s diary pertaining to nature, such as, “Mother Nature makes me humble and prepared to face every blow courageously.”

The rain stopped falling as the planting concluded—just in time to enjoy two birthday cakes in Frank’s memory.

“Even if Anne couldn’t attend our party, we wanted to celebrate her legacy,” said Sandra Craine, coordinator of the exhibit. “The Anne Frank Center is by no means a religious place; instead, we want to teach people not to be bystanders.”