Decker Boulevard was abuzz with music and dancing Saturday as community members attended the first Decker Boulevard International Block Party, which was centered around the unveiling of a large, new mural symbolizing the cultural diversity of the area.
Known as the County’s “International Corridor,” the Decker Boulevard area is home to a variety of businesses that offer food, clothing and other items representing various countries highlighted on the mural. The block party featured food trucks, local business vendors, face-painting, a DJ, dancing and more. Hopes are for the inaugural event to grow even larger in coming years.
“We are very excited about the work that Richland County Council has done in declaring Decker Boulevard Richland County’s ‘International Corridor,’” said Richland County Councilman Jim Manning, District 8, who led efforts to organize the mural project funded by the County’s Neighborhood Improvement Program. “We’re doing great things to revitalize this entire two-mile corridor to let folks know what a rich, diverse, international culture we have right here in Richland County.”
World-renown artist Karl Wilkes was commissioned by Richland County to paint the international-themed mural, which stretches across the back of the Staples building. Wilkes spent several months working on it – one of his largest projects to date – and had students from local schools help paint portions of it.
“Mr. Manning had an idea, a prediction of the world becoming a more diverse and more unified world,” Wilkes said. “And that unity and growth would begin in local communities.”
Titled “Prediction,” the mural features several internationally-recognized symbols of peace and unity and is capped with a line of flags representing nations around the world.
“I hope people enjoy this new beacon of light and life on what was once just the empty back of a building,” Wilkes said. “I hope it serves as a new landmark and it empowers anyone who looks at it.”
Manning and Wilkes presented certificates to Richland County students who helped work on the mural. Representatives from the Decker Boulevard Business Coalition, the Cultural Council of Richland County Lexington Counties and the various local business owners and community leaders who supported the project were also recognized during the block party.