It’s a scene straight out of a Charles Dickens novel, and has been displayed every holiday season for years.
Featuring buildings covered in snow, a big decorated tree and a sign that welcomes visitors to the annual Dickens Festival in the Village of Port Jefferson, the mural was starting to look a bit worn, according to local business leaders.
“The cutout is pretty old,” said Barbara Ransome, director of operations for the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses were saying it was looking tired and asking if anything could be done.”
With the intention to clean up the painting and make it as good as new, Ransome asked two local artists to give the decade-old mural a facelift.
Linda Alfin and Jennifer Hannaford have been spending a good part of this past year decorating different spaces throughout the village.
It started when Ransome and chamber president, Mary Joy Pipe, recruited the artists over the summer to decorate a set of electrical boxes and turn them into aquatic scenes in an attempt to beautify downtown.
“I’ve always understood that art can be powerfully transformative for a community, but engaging in this process has been fun because I get to see the change,” Hannaford said. “People also feel like their village is being cared for and, in turn, so are they.”
Since then, the pair has done several murals together throughout the village.
“Linda is one of the most efficient painters I have ever seen,” Hannaford said. “I cannot say enough about her work ethic. I hope more folks take advantage of the fact that they have this kind of service and talent in their own town. I have learned a great deal from her this year.”
And the work didn’t stop for the artists come earlier this month. Alfin said that when Ransome called last minute asking if they could “freshen up” the scene, the two artists jumped on it.
“The very next day we brought the mural back to life,” Alfin said. “Everyone walking by as we were painting was thanking us for repainting the mural.”
It took just two hours on Dec. 1 to make it vibrant, while the compliments and gratitude from residents touched the Port Jefferson muralist.
“A woman came up to us and was so happy to see us sprucing it up,” Alfin said.
While the Dickens Festival was canceled this year due to the COVID crisis, the snowmen in the scene can now greet visitors with a new smile, reminding them of what can hopefully be celebrated normally again next year.
“I’m so happy to be able to help my town look more inviting and festive with all the murals we did so far throughout the village,” Alfin said.