First comes a striking night view of the Ukrainian city of Lviv. A few hundred feet down State Road, a Ukrainian cathedral rises against the side of Parma Lock Service. Seconds later, a field of sunflowers erupts from the side of Lviv International Food Store.
It’s all part of the transformation that’s taken place along this stretch of State Road since Parma dedicated the neighborhood as Ukrainian Village in 2008.
“I’ve seen people early in the morning standing [next to] Lviv taking pictures, trying to make it look as if they are actually standing in a field of sunflowers,” says Parma community development director Erik Tollerup.
But these huge, vibrant murals aren’t what you expect. They’re not the work of painters, but Inflatable Images, a Brunswick company best known for creating the huge inflatable football players fans display on their front lawns. The company produces the murals by printing each image across several strips of 54-inch, self-adhesive vinyl film, which is then applied to a building using a heated air gun.
The murals, which cost around $12 per square foot, were paid for with government-issued grants earmarked for city improvements. Mayor Dean DePiero says aesthetic improvements such as these that capitalize on Parma’s strong ethnic heritage make his city more attractive to people and businesses.
“We’ve been trying to [use] it as a way to promote home ownership and business development,” DePiero says.
The Ukrainian Village murals aren’t the only ones sprouting up throughout Parma. There’s a cityscape of Warsaw, Poland, on the side of the Little Polish Diner on Ridge Road and plans for an Italian-themed mural on the side of Colozza’s Bakery down the road.
Inflatable Images owner Dave Scherba says he’s already talking with city officials in Cleveland, Medina and Brunswick about similar murals.
“Cities are known for something,” Scherba says, “whether it’s a high school sports team or cultural heritage.”