(Late) summer of LOVE
Local volunteers put up special signs
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.
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.