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Lyons' Mural Mania was announced as a finalist for the Erie Canalway Heritage Award of Excellence. The application was submitted to the National Park Service by Mark DeCracker, President of the Lyons Chamber of Commerce. The nomination is truly an honor for the small historic village as it uses its murals to tell stories, create conversation pieces, lure in out of town visitors and wow onlookers of all ages.

Representatives from the National Parks Service visited Lyons last Friday to interview contributors to the Mural Mania project. They met at Ohmann's, where a round table discussion took place about the history of Mural Mania and it's legacy left to the community for all the world to see. "Coming to Lyons is like putting on a flannel shirt", says Les Bartley of Lyons as he describes the warmth and friendliness of the murals to the community.

Mural Mania are a series of historical paintings along side buildings and abutments all around the village. They depict scenes from a time ago that teach younger generations what the community once looked like and remind older generations of the area's modern progress.

The site visit consisted of interviews from government officials, civic groups, students, merchants and even the artists that created the murals. Each had their own unique tale to tell about the mural program along with teaching the commission panel a little bit of Lyons history. A walking tour was completed with a short narrative of the intimate meaning behind each painting.

The concept is simple. It is to preserve history through community art.

Its spontaneous plan brought citizens of all walks of life together to work on a common goal; however, the project did more than that. The uniting of people brought individuals into a group and allowed the younger to co-mingle with the elder. It taught creative skills, artistic language, and camaraderie. It passioned several, empowered a team and revived a village. "You can't teach the brushstrokes of life", says Mr. DeCracker, who is also the initiator of the Mural Mania program. It is obvious that each individual person took a lesson of their own that can't be taught in history books.

Winston's Dream, the catalyst mural in the series is painted on the old trolley abutment along side Lock 27 on Leach Road. The mural vividly shows how the Erie Canal was an active travel route that was an inexpensive resource to carry freight. The canalway markedly became a hot spot for commerce, travel and tourism. This process is once again being explored as a cost-effective alternative as our economy shifts.

The Eric Canal is also an economical leisure activity and has an open bike trail. Visitors on the trail often stop and admire the brightly colored murals. Even the media have commented on the artwork stating that, “The Erie Canal has grown more colorful thanks to the vision of some local residents.”, says R-News.

In conclusion of the site team visit, we were left with some final thoughts. "I want to thank you for a very productive and insightful visit to the Village of Lyons. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour and meeting so many people who are enthusiastically dedicated to improving the community." writes Jean Mackay, Director of Communications and Outreach. "We were much impressed by your incredible passion and the moving stories behind each mural project."

Mural Mania is one of three finalists. The winner will be announced in mid-May.

To view all of Lyons' amazing murals and their meanings, go to http://www.lyonsny.com/ and click on "Mural Mania".


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