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Mayor John Gilstrap joined state and local leaders Tuesday at a ceremony during which the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce unveiled a LOVE artwork sign that reflects what makes this region unique.
The sign is now one of 94 LOVEworks signs on display in localities across Virginia that were created as part of a statewide tourism initiative.
“Danville and Pittsylvania County have a history and a heritage like no other,” Gilstrap said at the ceremony.
The "L" is made of painted barn wood with a tobacco leaf on the front to honor the region’s tobacco history and heritage.
The "O" is a Goodyear aircraft tire representing workforce and motorsports throughout the region.
One side of the "V" is a canoe and oar, representing the lakes and rivers in the region, while the other side is made of grapes, wine glasses, beer bottles, and mugs, depicting the growing brewery and winery scene.
The "E" is a wrap of popular local attractions from Danville, Chatham, Gretna and Hurt.
Todd Haymore, state secretary of Commerce and Trade and a native of Danville and Pittsylvania County, said the LOVEworks signs around Virginia are part of the “Virginia is for Lovers” tourism campaign. He encouraged residents and visitors to take photos with the Danville-Pittsylvania County LOVE sign and share them through social media using the hashtag #loveva.
"Tourism is an economic powerhouse and I know this LOVEworks sign is going to generate more opportunities for this area," Haymore said. "That is another reason why I am so proud to come home and be part of this."
The Danville-Pittsylvania County sign is the first mobile sign in the state's LOVEworks program and can be seen at Christmas parades this weekend in Chatham and Danville. Following the parades, the sign will be on display during the Community Holiday Light Show at Ballou Park in Danville.
The sign was dedicated in honor of former chamber president Laurie Moran, who died in June at age 56. Moran’s family attended the ceremony.
"It is so fitting that this sign is being dedicated to Laurie Moran," Haymore said. "Laurie was a dear, dear friend to everyone here today, a dear friend to my family, and a dear friend to so many. There was not a bigger promoter or marketer of Danville and Pittsylvania County. Thank you for dedicating this LOVEworks sign to Laurie."
Brenda Bowman, former Pittsylvania County supervisor and director of the Chamber’s Tourism Committee, spearheaded the effort into creating the sign. During yesterday’s ceremony, she said that any Chamber member planning an event such as a ribbon cutting, grand opening or festival will be able to use the sign at no charge, though they will have to tow it to and from the event at their own expense.
The chamber received a $1,500 grant from the state LOVEwork program. Donations from businesses covered the remainder of the cost of the sign, with volunteers constructing and assembling the sign.
Gilstrap thanked the Chamber for its “tireless efforts and expertise” in promoting the region. “To the businesses who donated materials and equipment, and to the volunteers who lined up to construct and assemble the sign, I want to thank you for your contributions to this project,” Gilstrap said. “This sign will educate and promote interest in our community. You all should be very proud of yourself."