The Mural Project
The Babylon Village Pool has held a special place in my heart for as long as I can remember. I spent the summers of my childhood learning to swim there, playing tetherball and nok hockey with my cousins, taking over the playground with my friends, and selling string bracelets so I could buy us all ice cream at the end of the day. Among a million other memories and moments the pool gave me, you could say that it's also where I first found my entrepreneurial spirit.
Eventually as most kids and families do, we outgrew the pool and spent our summers in the surf at Gilgo. And eventually I went off to college and my summer days started to look even more different than my familiar times at the pool and the beach. So when the village asked me if I'd like to restore the pool's iconic murals during the summer of 2018, I jumped at the opportunity. I was going into my junior year of college and craving that sense of nostalgia and connection to my roots. It was also my last 'chill' summer before I'd have to jump into the world of internships and graduation prep so I embraced the chance to go back to the place that had given me so much as a kid.
The crew set me up with my snazzy red cart, paint, and a handful of brushes and rollers. First thing first was restoring the sea creature murals on the west side of the pool. They asked me to bring new life to the friendly whales by the picnic tables which was easier in the sense that it was all scaled and laid out for me already, but more difficult because I had to maintain the integrity of the original paintings. I'd get to work everyday around 7am and all of the swimming lesson kids would start rolling in around 8. My favorite part about working on the west side was giving a paintbrush to the younger siblings of swim lesson kids who were sitting around. I wanted to give them something to do and encourage them to be creative (even if I only let them paint the solid blue blocks). The pool has always been a place that revolves around community so I figured the murals should be a communal effort when possible as well.
Once I finished up our whale pals, I headed to the east side's 55ft wall by the shuffleboard and basketball courts. This thing needed some WORK. It had received the brunt of the damage from Hurricane Sandy 6 years prior and the infamous dolphins were not looking themselves anymore. The Village allowed me to try something new which was incredibly exciting (and nerve-wracking!). It was easier in the sense that I could start fresh and create anything, but more difficult because I had to plan it all out. With this opportunity, I wanted to do something that reminded our community that the pool is a place you think of when you think of home. I also wanted to do something bright and bold that you could see from a boat out on the bay. So, I power washed the massive wall till my arms turned to noodles, primed it till I was blinded by the white paint, and got to work on the sunset ombre.
Next came the map of Long Island. I was planning on staying after dark one day to project the map and trace it on the wall, but a heavy summer storm swept through and left me with no time or choice but to freehand it the next day. So I went cement block by block till the map was complete. I added the compass, coordinates, my signature two seagulls, and the sailboat to mark Babylon as home on the map. There was no better feeling than the day I got to step back and take it all in. My summer at the pool gave me that nostalgia-fill, a deeper connection to my community, many new friends, a great tan, and something to be super proud of. It was an experience I'll cherish forever.