Hydrants to host familiar faces

July 22, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Lucille Ball, Louisa May Alcott, Joe Paterno, Thomas Jefferson, Matt White and Waynesboro founder John Wallace will soon be familiar sights in town.

Some of the borough's 187 fire hydrants will be painted with their likenesses and those of other famous Americans in the next few weeks as part of Waynesboro's 200th anniversary celebration this summer.

The fire plug project is being sponsored by the Jaycees as their part in the town's celebration, said Noel Kline, chairman of the civic group's project.


"So far 14 families, individuals and organizations have signed up to paint a hydrant," said Kline, 28, of Hamilton Avenue.

In 1979, the Waynesboro Fire Department, as part of its 100th anniversary, did a similar project, Chief Don Ringer said. The department was able to sign up enough people to have all of the borough's hydrants painted, Ringer said.

The firefighters followed pretty much the same theme as the Jaycees are using this year - painting the hydrants with likenesses of famous Americans.

The department assigned a hydrant for every American president, Ringer said.

That part of the project went well until the hydrant selected for Richard Nixon's portrait turned out to be at the borough's sewer plant. Ringer said that was a coincidence.

Ringer said the hydrants remained painted for several years until the paint started to peel and the department began to repaint them in standard colors.

The tops of the borough hydrants are color-coded according to water pressure, Ringer said. Those with blue tops can pump more than 1,500 gallons per minute, green more than 1,000 and orange about 500. Those with red tops have the lowest pressure.

Ringer said it won't matter if the artists for the Jaycees project paint over the tops of the hydrants because the firefighters know the pressures by heart.

So far only one hydrant in the Jaycees series is finished, Kline said. It depicts Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. It was painted by Sue Shaffer and is across the street from Waynesboro Hospital. Shaffer is a nurse at the hospital.

Kline said he will paint a hydrant carrying the likeness of Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno.

The Jaycees have a list of suggested subjects, including Benjamin Franklin, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, John Wayne, Albert Einstein, Molly Pitcher, Cal Ripken, Elvis Presley and Martin Luther King Jr.

Kline said all but one of the 11 hydrants lining Main Street have been assigned. Some families signed up to paint hydrants in front of their homes, while friends have gotten together to paint others, he said.

The local Sherwin Williams store is offering hydrant painters a 20 percent discount on paint, Kline said. All have to be done with oil-based paint, he said.

Kline said he is hoping to sign up enough painters to cover about 50 hydrants. Any citizen, family, church or civic group interested can call Kline at 1-717-762-5933.

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