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Mural to be added near river to fight litter

Columbia, SC – On Friday, March 15, at 11:30 a.m. PalmettoPride, Palmetto Outdoor Center and One Columbia will unveil a mural completed in an effort to help reduce litter and crime rates in the Midlands and raise awareness about the litter issues across our state. The mural will be close to two of our area’s greatest treasures, the Lower Saluda River, and the Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Litter impacts communities across the state, and PalmettoPride is working to help create a litter-free South Carolina through a multitude of tactics. One such tactic that has picked up steam not only in South Carolina but internationally, is the theory that public art displays can improve the quality of life for the community. PalmettoPride offers Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) seminars, which teach that negative behaviors can be triggered by things like poor lighting, overgrown landscapes and neglected properties.

When this project was announced, Palmetto Outdoor Center applied for a mural on Candi Lane by the new river walk behind the zoo. Palmetto Outdoor Center is now the largest tubing outfitter in South Carolina. Michael Mayo, a local from Lexington, started the company in 2006 with a handful of tubes and a desire to get families outside and interacting with nature.During the summer months, you’ll often find Mayo setup at the West Columbia park on the Riverwalk by the amphitheater on Alexander Road. He and his staff are loading buses full of happy people who are then transported to the Columbia side of the Lower Saluda River for inner-tubing or kayaking trips down the beautiful waterway.

“With the grand opening of the new Saluda Riverwalk right around the corner, we felt it was the perfect time to begin showcasing a combination of activities the community can interact with,” said Michael Mayo, Owner of Palmetto Outdoor. “As a teenager, I would pass by this concrete wall (Candi Lane) to go kayaking and imagine the impact a public art piece would have for the tourism.” The new Saluda Riverwalk will begin on the Richland County side of the river but will eventually connect across the river to the Lexington County side near LMC.

Through a combination of art, music and food families can now escape the four walls and explore one of many new installations in the area, such as “Saluda in Bloom.” Mike Dawson has been a monumental leader getting the river walk completed over the past 20 years and with his dedication, the mural will be seen by thousands. His son, John Michael passed away recently and this mural will be dedicated to his son and the Dawson family.

“For decades since, I have been trying to find ways to get an art installation and see the current project as a catalyst to complete the entire wall in the future,” said Mayo. “Over the past decade of operating Palmetto Outdoor, we have discovered that most guests are drawn to the river and its surroundings; however some are a little reluctant to get on the water. We promote a variety of other activities such as biking, walking tours and now public art. New art projects like “Saluda in Bloom” will hopefully be an inspiration for a future artist.”

Through a partnership with One Columbia to find the artist to complete this mural and the grant from PalmettoPride, Austin ‘Slim’ Gee was commissioned to complete the project.

"We're excited to be a part of yet another public art project that enhances the access points where Columbians and visitors go to enjoy the rivers,” said Lee Snelgrove, Executive Director of One Columbia. “By adding a colorful and creative element along our unique natural resources, we as Columbians are demonstrating the high cultural value we place on the rivers."

PalmettoPride will monitor this location over the next year to see how this new public art will impact the surrounding area.

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