(Late) sum­mer of LOVE

Lo­cal vol­un­teers put up spe­cial signs

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By John Adam Staff Writer — John Adam may be reached at jadam@progress-in­dex.com or 804-722-5172.

PETERS­BURG — Long­time Vir­ginia res­i­dents will rec­og­nize the gi­ant “Love” signs that have be­come com­mon­place around the com­mon­wealth’s towns and cities for many years now. The signs stem from Vir­ginia’s slo­gan “Vir­ginia is for Lovers”. Though now in Peters­burg, thanks to the ef­forts of lo­cal fire­fighter and ac­tivist La­mar John­son, the city is start­ing to re­flect the com­mon­wealth’s creed. John­son has spear­headed a project to put up “Love” signs across the city. So far, the signs greet res­i­dents on West Wash­ing­ton Street off Exit 54, out­side Peters­burg High School on John­son Road, and on East Wythe Street out­side of the Zion Church, in ad­di­tion to sev­eral other lo­ca­tions.

“What made me come up with the love sign idea was that ev­ery­where you go, and ev­ery time you see some­one, they have some­thing neg­a­tive to say about Peters­burg,” said John­son. “I was think­ing that maybe we put the love signs up, some­one see­ing it will feel a lot bet­ter.”

John­son helped or­ga­nize a group called Peters­burg Com­mu­nity Vol­un­teers, who go around to neigh­bor­hoods and cut grass, fix play­grounds, and do many other forms of work to help beau­tify the city. Put­ting up the love signs is a part of what John­son called a “wide­spread ef­fort to clean up the city.”

Each of the signs are dec­o­rated with dif­fer­ent mes­sages or themes. The one on Wythe Street is re­lated to autism aware­ness, with “it’s o.k to be dif­fer­ent” writ­ten across the let­ter L.

The crim­son sign near the high school is dec­o­rated with mes­sages pro­mot­ing ed­u­ca­tion, with slo­gans like “re­spect your teach­ers” writ­ten on the let­ters.

“We wanted to let stu­dents know that school is very im­por­tant, it’s not just some­where to hang out,” said John­son. “It’s a place to get an ed­u­ca­tion.”

One of the signs is also col­ored pink for breast can­cer aware­ness.

“We want to help cit­i­zens un­der­stand that love can help over­come any neg­a­tiv­ity in your mind,” said John­son.

John­son, a life­long res­i­dent of the city and a 17-year vet­eran of the fire depart­ment, said there are plans for more signs to be put up.

“Want to make sure ev­ery sign we put up can be seen by a lot of peo­ple,” he said.

[JOHN ADAM/PROGRESS-IN­DEX.COM]

A love sign on West Wythe Street on Septem­ber 6. Lo­cal fire­fighter La­mar John­son has spear­headed the con­struct­ing of signs like his one around the city.

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