Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

April 2, 2014

Murals: Lakeland’s blast from the past

VALDOSTA — Walk along the streets of Lakeland is unlike visiting the downtown of most other towns and cities. Lakeland is the embodiment of the town’s simultaneous past, present and future.

This weekend, folks are invited to this Lanier County town to walk through the portals of the past, present and future as Lakeland hosts its annual Milltown Murals Motorcade event.

All downtowns are amalgamations of the “then,” the “now” and the “to be.” While some cities seek new spirit among the framing of past architecture, Downtown Lakeland has found something new by absolutely embracing its past.

Murals shadow the sides of Lakeland’s downtown buildings, silhouette second-story windows and linger beside doorways. These murals are peopled by faces of folks who lived in Lakeland more than 80 years ago.

They reflect the life and population of the town in the years before the Lanier County seat was even named Lakeland.

The mural series is called Milltown Murals because Milltown was the town’s name until 1925 when the name changed to Lakeland in honor of beautiful Banks Lake, but more importantly, the murals bring a sense of 1920s Milltown to life.

The two dozen murals were initiated by the efforts of Nell Patten Roquemore, a Lanier County native and author of two books on Lakeland and Lanier County, and founder of the organization Let’s Improve Lanier’s Appearance (LILA).

While the murals cling to Lakeland’s past, they have given Lakeland new potential for the present and future as a place where tourists visit. The state has even declared Lakeland as Georgia’s Historic Mural City.

This weekend’s Milltown Murals Motorcade is scheduled from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, throughout Downtown Lakeland, with a parade set for 1 p.m., and additional activities into the afternoon.

There are vintage cars, food and entertainment throughout the day, as well as residents dressing in 1920s era clothing. Admission: Free.

It’s a blast from the past for the here and now.

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