A recently completed town mural is now on display
Historic Downtown Plant City has now become even more aesthetically pleasing to the eye with the incorporation of its new mural.
The colorful artwork showcases the town’s history with pictures of prominent people and locations.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Tuesday to officially induct the mural located at the Unity in the Community Park.
The artwork, which was created between August and October of this year, is on the side wall of the Whistle Stop Café on Collins Street
“It is a great day in Plant City and I’m so proud of this mural,” said Plant City Vice-Mayor Michael Sparkman.
He was one of the city officials who stood alongside the town’s citizens.
From one end to the other, the new mural details Plant City down its timeline.
The left end shows:
Henry B. Plant, the city’s namesake. He played a major role in constructing railroads throughout Florida, especially into Plant City.
Lee Candis, the first African-American police officer in Plant City. He was in the force from 1958 to 1985, leaving as a police sergeant. He was also a concrete installation contractor and was known in town as the “Candy Man.”
The Historic 1917 American LaFrance fire engine which not only served the town in times of emergencies, but now is used in special events such as parades. It is part of the city vehicle inventory and is displayed at Fire Station #3.
McRory’s Department Store is in plain view, leading to the Hillsboro Bank, and further back is the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds. The rendering of the scene is based on a mid-20th Century photo.
It also shows the Florida Strawberry Festival midway and its concert stage and grandstands. Founded in the 1930s, the Strawberry Festival draws in over half-a-million visitors from around the world.
A Corvette represents the annual raffle conducted by the Unity in the Community charity. The raffle has raised funds, since 2012, to support Unity in the Community.
Stingray Chevrolet donates a car every year to support the Unity in the Community projects.
There is a background glimpse of City Hall also known as the Nettie Berry Draughon Municipal Building and the American flag. In front of the building are workers in a field with rows of strawberries.
Also in the field is the late Sarah Lofstrom, the daughter of Jerry and Marti Lofstrom.
Then there’s the Strawberry Water Tank with the 1914 High School just in front, and the Bing House in front of the school.
The State Theater is shown right behind the Historic Union Depot and a mid-20th Century locomotive.
The right end:
A painting of Hillsborough County Commissioner Elijah Lutrell Bing is presented in honor of him as a prominent African-American official in the county.
Then there’s the First Methodist Church’s steeple and cross which is still present in the downtown area.
Also shown are life-sized paintings of Plant City’s longest serving mayors are:
Michael S. Sparkman. For almost 30 years, Sparkman has served as city commissioner, mayor, and vice-mayor.
Rick Lott who has dedicated himself as a city commissioner and mayor for almost 20 years.
Sadye Gibbs Martin was the first African-American, and woman, to become a Plant City mayor. She was a city commissioner for 15 years, the mayor for seven terms and vice-mayor for four terms.
Alongside the mayors is Bill McDaniel who was the Plant City chief of police before becoming the city manager.
And then there’s the representation of the eagle statue that is the center piece of the Plant City Veterans’ Monument Park.
Also present at the event was the mural artist Keith Goodson, who said he’s done approximately 200 murals in his career.
“Back in August, I got a call from the Whistle Stop owner, which is Jerry Lofstrom,” recalled Goodson. “He called me and my wife and said, ‘can you come over and talk to us about doing a mural on the side of our building?’”
He presented a rendering of what Lofstrom envisioned and began working. It was a project that took two and a half months to complete.
Plant City City Commissioner Mary Mathis is one of many people who has a sentimental connection to the mural.
Former Mayor Gibbs was her first-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary Magnet School.
“It is an awesome feeling, and what I love about this – it truly is telling the story of Plant City,” said Mathis. “I’m glad to see so many being honored and recognized in this mural, for all of their hard work here in Plant City.”