Downtown is bright for the holidays

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

There’s a picture of Santa wear camouflage fatigues.

There’s also a patriotic Santa, decked out in red, white and blue and bearing a U.S. flag.

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Then there’s the Christmas tree and toy factory, all lining the windows of businesses in downtown Suffolk’s historic district.

The holiday artwork painted on the windows of businesses along North Main Street comes courtesy of a group of gifted art students from Kilby Shores Elementary School.

For the past four holiday seasons, art teacher Angie Salerno has brought 10 students to Suffolk’s main thoroughfare to beautify the store fronts with the brilliant colors of Christmas. The Paint the Town project is sponsored by the Downtown Business Association and the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

&uot;These are the gifted and talented fourth- and fifth-graders and they are wonderful artists,&uot; said Salerno, now in her 10th year of teaching. &uot;We so enjoy the children and this project instills so much self-confidence in them.&uot;

Neither chilly weather nor wintry winds put a damper on the painting activities or the youngsters’ spirits as they painted the variety of holiday scenes recently.

Cody Byrum was excited because his dad, Mark Byrum, was coming downtown to see his artwork on the storefronts. His mom, Janet, would also see the painting, he added.

&uot;I love to paint and I would like to be an artist,&uot; said Cody. &uot;I also like to draw.

&uot;I painted a Christmas tree with decorations. It only took about an hour, and it was a lot of fun.&uot;

Fifth-grader Mary Ann Keith agreed

&uot;It was a lot of fun,&uot; she said. &uot;A lot of people stopped to watch us paint the windows.

&uot;This is something I would like to do again.&uot;

All of the students agreed and said that having a few hours out of the classroom was an extra bonus.

&uot;It’s a great day to be out of school for a couple of hours!&uot; said

Travis Godfrey, pointing to the beautiful American flag he painted on a downtown window.

The youngster is following in the footsteps of his brothers, Quinton and Fraser Jr., who have participated in the Paint the Town project during previous years.

After the arduous task of dressing downtown for the holiday, the youngsters chowed down on subs, chips, punch and Christmas cookies.

Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson; newly elected Clerk of the Court W. Randolph &uot;Randy&uot; Carter Jr.; and Diana Klink, community outreach coordinator for the Commonwealth’s Attorney office, ate lunch with the kids.

Although the youngsters agreed that &uot;being out of school&uot; was the best part of the day, they said it was &uot;pretty neat getting to meet the real life&uot; equivalent of the prosecutors they sometimes watch on television.

The Paint the Town project is a win-win project for all involved, said Klink. &uot;Each year, the DBA and Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson invite the children to Paint the Town for the holiday season,&uot; she said. &uot;Each year, the students leave some of the most beautiful art work any art student could create.

&uot;We are very proud to have these young people and we would like to encourage citizens of Suffolk to visit our historical downtown area, especially during this holiday season.&uot;