ARCOLA, Ill. (WCIA) — Brooms, murals, hippies and dolls? There’s not much those four things have in common unless you make a stop in Our Town.
It’s easy to spot a lot of local color if you want to feast your eyes on the public art on display. Downtown Arcola is decked out. The colorful pieces decorating business facades and gracing street corners all tell stories from eclectic “Sweeping Beauties,” to the massive Wall Dog murals.
“First of all, it’s way space. Second of all, they’re all works of art and, third of all, they tell the history of your community, so what’s not to like about them?”
Pat Monahan works downtown. He sees the things people make stops for every day and he never gets sick of the sights.
“It just gives you a feeling of pride that your community is doing really some long-term things that will be around for a long time, that will make people happier. I mean, you cannot help but look at that Raggedy Ann and Andy and not feel better about yourself.”
There’s one monument in particular though which attracts people from all over the country and inspires nostalgia from the 1960s.
“They enjoy it because they were either born then or they remember that era and they want to show their kids or something.”
Sherron Moomaw moved here with her husband in the late 60s, right around the peak of what she calls “hippie time.”
“When the hippies arrived, they opened up the world. Everyone could openly say that they criticized the government or that they could have free love. He built it to reflect his life. He wasn’t a hippie because he had five kids to raise.”
But, he felt so inspired by the lifestyle following the hippie movement, he constructed a quirky collection of keepsakes to honor it.
“He said that the pieces on it are the pieces of junk that you get from living. Everybody you meet, everything you do leaves a little piece of junk to you.”
So, brooms, murals, hippies and dolls may not mean much on their own, and they certainly don’t have much in common, but they share a common space.
Monahan says people who drive through town and see the art often comment about it. He said you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s not impressed by it.