My husband and I attended a family reunion in Tupelo, MS the weekend of June 16, 2023. I noted a Guitar Trail in downtown Tupelo, so we headed to Main street to explore. Tupelo’s downtown area is rather cute. Old buildings have been revitalized and repurposed. It is clean, pretty, and adorned with flowerpots and the colorful guitars. In addition to the historic Reed department store (1905) with its murals, I walked by the Lyric theatre, the Tupelo Hardware Company (1925)-where it is said Elvis got his first guitar in 1945, several trendy boutiques, restaurants with live music some with outdoor seating in alleyways lit with strung lights, music shops etc.
I photographed 26 colorful guitars and was curious about the project. After some googling, a geocaching reference stated that the guitar public art project was the brainchild of Mrs. Kit Stafford, an art teacher at Thomas Street Elementary. Designed by her husband, the first fifteen six-foot guitars were unveiled on what would have been Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday in January 2010. The following year fifteen additional guitars were added. Inspired by their art teachers to decorate the guitars with themes around blues, jazz, rock; school children from Tupelo’s public schools participated in painting them. The project was funded by an art endowment grant.
I loved the guitar idea and very much enjoyed locating and admiring each one. I remember a similar project a few years ago in Columbia, SC where I lived. Palmetto trees were decorated and spread out across the city. I am not sure if any remain today. I think it is a beautiful way to celebrate local talent and simultaneously offer tourists a family attraction to explore. I hope the photos below inspire you to explore this trail, next time you find yourself in Tupelo.
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