The City of Petal just got a little brighter with a new mural showcasing the relationship between the Petal Fire Department, the Petal School District and the community.
The mural, which is located on the side of Fire Station No. 3 on Mississippi 42, is the work of Petal Upper Elementary School art teacher Brooke Bowden. The project, which is expected to be completed shortly after Thanksgiving, highlights several elements from each of the three aforementioned entities.
“I am super excited about this project,” Bowden said. “I love the idea of connecting our community and schools together through art.”
The mural features the words “Home of the Petal Panthers,” with “Petal” displaying prominently in the middle. In each of the five letters in “Petal,” various designs can be found, including a fire hydrant, the Petal Panther mascot, a fire truck and fans cheering at a sporting event.
“I wanted to do community spirit, so I didn’t want to do specific sports, because that’s the one thing I love about Petal, is there’s so many things that people are involved in,” Bowden said. “I wanted to show the town cheering in general, so that’s the first letters I did was the ‘Panthers.’
“When I was doing the ‘Petal’ part, the fire hydrants right there in front of the station – and the flagpole is right behind it – I knew wanted to incorporate the fire station, so that was the fire truck and all that stuff. Then I knew I wanted to do the panther, because that’s kind of the station’s mascot.”
For the last part of the mural, Bowden expects to paint a silhouette of kindergarten and elementary students pointing up at a graduating senior from the Petal School District.
“I want to show that we’re not only just arts and athletics, but we’re academics too,” Bowden said. “The community supports that as well, and that’s what makes us all one Petal community.
“So that’s my idea. I have the lift through Thanksgiving, and so I’m trying to finish up – I’ve got to do some touching up and finish the highlights and all the extra stuff, so I’m hoping to have it done maybe even before Thanksgiving.”
The mural originated from the Petal Fire Department, where firefighter Will Lewis brought the idea to Fire Chief Joe Hendry. From there, Hendry addressed the concept with Matt Dillon, the superintendent of the Petal School District, to make the idea a reality.
“It appealed to me, and so I talked to Dr. Dillon about it, and he was really excited about it,” Hendry said. “It looks great, and I think it’s a good marriage between the community, the city and the school district.
“We’re going to have to put some lights up, and unfortunately, we’re probably going to have to put some cameras up so nobody will deface it.”
The land where Station 3 is located, adjacent to Petal High School, was donated by the school district Last month, the Petal Fire Department began displaying the district’s panther mascot on Engine 3.
“This was really a tribute to the school district, and our show of support to the school,” Hendry said. “It kind of all started after Hattiesburg got a USM pumper (truck) – it’s black and gold.
“(School officials) were talking about that last year, and I said ‘well, we can put the panther on Engine 3. They liked that idea, so we got that going, and then this mural came up, and it really tells a good story about the school and the community.”
Dillon said the district has a great working relationship with the department and is appreciative of their ongoing support.
“I think it just speaks to who we are as Petal,” he said. “When you have organization like the fire department reach out, with Chief Hendry, to want to highlight the school, and the city as a whole, to represent the fire department, it just shows that we’re all Petal Panthers.
“I think it’s pretty special that I can see that represented on that wall right there on Highway 42 in such a prominent spot. Also, we’re a district that believes in academics, arts and athletics, and that’s a beautiful art piece that Brooke – one of our own very talented artists – was able to make happen in such a short period of time.”