This report has been contributed by Clare Reverri, a student from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.
You may notice bright pink cherry blossoms painted on cars and storefronts around the time of the Cherry Blossom Festival, so we were just curious, who’s behind these cherry blossom murals?
Peggy Whyte started painting the cherry blossoms 29 years ago.
“My first cherry blossoms were on a bus. It was a Cherry Blossom Express,” Whyte said. “The next year, the Cherry Blossom headquarters called me about painting the cars and from there just ballooned.”
Whyte is from Thomaston and was already a sign painter when her cherry blossom paintings got popular.
“I just started taking advantage of the fact that there was a cherry blossom festival in town. And just to begin with the few cars,” Whyte said. “(People) would call me and say, ‘Can we get those on our windows?'”
Five years ago, Whyte’s daughter Kelly Walker started working for her.
“Since I’ve moved back down and have been helping the last five years, we’ve just like created a bond that we didn’t have before,” Walker said.
Whyte raised Walker on lots while she worked.
“(Walker) grew up (…) watching me paint, and so I didn’t even have to teach her.” Whyte said. “She just jumped in and started painting, and now we’re raising her children the way she was raised.”
Kelly said their lifestyle is a huge blessing.
“To see it like kind of brighten up other people’s lives, like oh, okay, that’s cool that we can have that type of an impact on people and kind of bring the cherry blossom cheer into the city,” Walker said.