LEMOYNE, Pa. (WHTM) – If you’ve driven into Lemoyne lately, you may have noticed a warmer welcome these days in the form of a gigantic mural. Project leaders held a dedication for the Lemoyne Passage Mural on Sunday, to celebrate its final touches and its impact on the community.
The idea for a mural is more than a decade old, but things really got started a little over a year ago. The mural takes you through Lemoyne’s rich history as a transportation hub.
“We begin back in 1935,” says lead artist Daniel Finch. “When Bridgeport was actually the name of this town.”
At the beginning, its highest point, the mural stands at 17.5 feet high.
“The waters of the Susquehanna,” Finch says, as he walks us through the timeline, “Which are ultimately the reason we’re all here.”
The images continue down the ramp of I-83 into Lemoyne for a stretch of 445 feet.
“The role the Conestoga wagons made when they were built, repaired or outfitted here in this region,” Finch continues to show us images displayed along the wall.
Lemoyne volunteers chose transportation as the mural’s theme, calling Lemoyne a passage from Harrisburg to the Cumberland Valley.
“People travel through,” says Finch. “We’re a big of a hub of sorts.”
Through planes, trains and automobiles, drivers viewing the mural get a glimpse of history and culture at once. The details reveal the sweat of more than one hundred volunteers.
“We had to get this right or everybody would know,” says Finch.
During his day job, Finch is a painting and drawing professor at Messiah College. That’s where he and his sidekicks painted all the panels for the mural over the past year.
“This was the largest project of my life,” says Finch. “I’ve never done anything like this before, and I doubt I’ll ever do anything like it again. It feels really wonderful.”
The same can be said for the community of Lemoyne, which Sunday celebrated dozens of sponsors–big and small–that raised $81,000 to make the mural project happen.
“It’s to evoke community pride,” says Sue Yenchko, who was part of a team of community improvement volunteers that came up with this idea 12 years ago.
“I felt very emotional,” says Yenchko, describing her first look at the finished product.
The mural movement isn’t unique to Lemoyne. Other communities, namely York and Harrisburg, have seen a mural renaissance recently.
Finch shares his theory as to why: “If you have a broken window in a community, often it means no one is in charge and no one cares,” he says. “A mural is the exact opposite of a broken window.”
The Lemoyne Mayor surprised Finch by proclaiming July 30 as “Lemoyne Passage Day” from here forward, honoring the mural and its theme.
“To have it up, to have everything fitting as it should, and to have such an amazing positive response from the public,” says Finch, “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as an artist.”