Custom skatepark mural celebrates Kentucky Guard

Story by Spc. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini and State Command Chief Master Sgt. James Smith discuss the plans of a new National Guard mural with artist Nick Accuroso at the Louisville Extreme Park in Louisville, Ky., April 20, 2013. Kentucky was one of five states chosen by the National Guard Bureau to have a mural installed at a location of the state’s choice. (Photo courtesy of J.C. Newton)

LOUISVILLE Ky. — A skate park may be the last place you would expect to see uniformed members of the military, but the Kentucky National Guard has other ideas.  As skateboards rolled by on the slope and edges of the park, Soldiers and Airmen gathered around a large mural in its final stages of completion. Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini and Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Recruiting and Retention Command were on hand at the Louisville Extreme Park in Louisville, Ky., April 20, 2013 for the painting and installation of the piece, a new National Guard mural.

“The Guard is looking to expand our efforts into the action sports market, as we have realized there are great candidates for military service in the non-traditional X-Game type sports,” said J.C. Newton, Marketing Director for the Kentucky National Guard.  “We are working with BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, etc. to let those participants know that the Guard could be an option for them. They have the strong individual attitudes and fearlessness that can make great soldiers.”

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Kentucky Guardsmen assist the artists of a new National Guard mural hang the finished piece at the Louisville Extreme Park in Louisville, Ky., April 20, 2013. The painting measuring 8 feet high and 12 feet wide will be on display at the park for two months before it is moved to an indoor facility. (Photo courtesy of J.C. Newton)

Kentucky along with four other states were selected to house the Guard murals based on a nationwide competition among the National Guards of the 54 states and territories. Louisville’s Extreme Park was chosen due to the uniqueness of its full pipe and  historical significance in the skating world.  The date was decided upon to coincide with all the festivities of Thunder Over Louisville.

“The murals are part of a social media campaign,” said Newton. “I submitted a one page paper on why Kentucky deserved a mural and we were selected. The ability to link the painting with Thunder, through the efforts of our marketing office and the Kentucky Derby Festival was too good to pass up.”

To see more photos from the Kentucky Guard’s involvement in Thunder Over Louisville, click here.

New York-based Zoom Media and Marketing worked with the National Guard Bureau to create unique and fitting images for each location around the country. Guard murals will also be installed at locations in Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma.

The patriotic visuals of the mural include the state capitol and a horse image. Tonini contributed to the mural by adding his own finishing touches with the spray paint.

Newton said the murals are a way to reach out to the younger generation and hopes to expand into the X-Games scene with a newer avenue of advertising and branding. The idea fits with New York-based Zoom Media’s concentration in the fitness industry and the artists contracted to make the images a reality.

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Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini adds his own touches of paint to a National Guard mural at the Louisville Extreme Park in Louisville, Ky., April 20, 2013. The mural’s location and date of completion was set to coincide with the festivities of Thunder Over Louisville to bring more attention to the project in downtown Louisville. (Photo courtesy of J.C. Newton)

“These paintings are a great way to get in touch with our youth,” said mural artist Nick Accuroso. “They are a way to appeal to a great amount of people.”

The mural, measuring  8 feet high and 12 feet wide, will be housed at the outdoor skate park for two months and will be transferred to an indoor skate park in Louisville permanently.

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