It all started with a monkey and a dirty sidewalk.
Now, Intercity Transit customers see a menagerie on sidewalks at the 80 bus stops in the system. Sea creatures, bunnies, a thunderbird and a magical wizard are some of the creations at the transfer station on Sixth Avenue in Lacey.
The fanciful creatures are created when IT workers use pressure washers to draw freehand as they clean the sidewalks.
“Our tools are a pressure washer, water and dirt,” said Joe Weakley, facilities specialist.
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Weakley said it started about a year ago when he saw a young mother trying to comfort a crying child. He asked what animal he should draw and the boy said “a monkey.” And so it began.
“I was just trying to change someone’s day,” Weakley said.
Each illustration takes a minute or two to make, Weakley said. His co-workers Ratisami Futi and Jayson Click are part of the sidewalk art team. Futi is the sea creature specialist — it reminds him of his home in American Samoa, he said.
“My little one loves the under the sea stuff, “ said Chelsea Smith, whose sons are 3 and 9. They noticed the sidewalk art two weeks ago when her car went into the shop and they started riding the bus. She has photos on her phone of an aquarium worth of images from near Lowe’s Hardware. Their favorite is a jelly fish.
Weakley, who has worked for IT for 22 years, said they clean 18 to 20 shelters a day.
“We call it clean art,” he said. If they make a mistake, they just wash it away, he said.
Customer feedback has been great, according to Ally McPherson, IT marketing representative.
“It’s a brilliant thing, to make it fun,” said customer Debbie Cline, who was waiting at the Lacey transfer station Wednesday.
“I’ll keep going until we run out of dirty sidewalks,” Weakley said.