BANGOR, Pa. (WLVT) - Green is the color everyone’s been waiting for in Bangor Borough, but it’s not the only color you’ll see downtown. Murals are bringing new life to the Slate Belt.
"They are popping up every week," said Laura McLain, executive director of the Slate Belt Chamber of Commerce, "and every time we go past one, I say, 'Oh, that's my favorite.' And then another one comes up. 'Oh, no. Now, that's my favorite.'"
It all started several months ago when the borough asked the Chamber and Slate Belt Rising to come up with ways to improve downtown. The Chamber reached out to local realtors like Faith Sarisky, who owns Realty Solutions of PA/NJ. What started with painting just one building turned into a lot more.
"If I'm doing this, everybody is going to want to do this," Sarisky said. "So, I started calling my competitors, local businesses, and everyone was on board. Let's sponsor a building. Let's sponsor the artists. People are sending in paint donations, and it just snowballed from there."
Local artists like Sarah Lanier got to work. She moved to Bangor five years ago and said she fell in love with the area.
"I just was so charmed by the architecture," she said. "The buildings are beautiful. The landscape is stunning."
Fellow Bangor artist Shannon Almanzar has painted five murals around town -- and is working on even more.
"Even in the midst of a weird time in the world, Bangor somehow is exploding with inspiration and color," she said. "People are excited, and that's worth it to me."
"They just everyday come up with a new fabulous idea," Sarisky said. "One is more spectacular than the other."
The murals are supported by local businesses who sponsor each project. Richmond Farm and Brewery sponsored a mural on the corner of 1st Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Co-owner Milissa Smith said sponsorship not only helps promote her business, but it also promotes the borough.
"[It makes] Bangor look beautiful downtown," she said, "just [makes] it look more appealing for people to want to come here, want to shop here, want to live here [and] want to open a business here."
A new mural is going up on the side of Bangor Trust Brewing on Broadway. It complements one on the other side of an adjacent breezeway.
Each project has been inspired by the artists’ creative vision. Lanier said the new mural is a tribute to the community.
"I kind of had this thought of dandelions. Dandelions get stepped on and pulled out. People think of them as a weed, and you just can't stop them. They come back year after year stronger than ever," she explained. "That's like, to me, the people of Bangor. I want them to be like dandelions. I want them to know and believe that they're not going to get pushed down. They will come back. Their roots are deep, and they're stronger than they think."
Bangor Trust Brewing co-owner Leo Bongiorno said the mural is the latest attraction to the breezeway, which now has patio-style seating and hanging lights.
"It seems like just a really great place for a greenway just by a practicality standpoint and for all the businesses to be able to share this," he said. "People [can] go over to Dinky’s and bring their ice cream cone over here or up to the pub and bring their food over to here."
As the area reopens, Mayor Brooke Kerzner said the murals make the borough more appealing to visitors, future residents and future businesses.
"I hope it attracts people to come into town and to spend their money," she said. "That's really the goal here -- to bring Bangor into a new light, to make it progress, to make it progressive and hopefully bring a new younger crowd into the borough."
Sarisky said she credits Todd McLain, Michael Sarisky III, Rachel Sarisky, Christine Sweeney, Tammy Pritchard, Ants Tree Service, Donald Jones and Miller's Paint Store for volunteering their time.
"We want restaurants to move in, and a restaurant is not going to move in in an area that doesn't look good and doesn't have the population that might come to a restaurant," she said.
Businesses aren’t wasting any time taking advantage of the breezeway. Bangor Trust Brewing will host live entertainment every Saturday this month, starting on Saturday, July 4.