Iconic lemon statue gets makeover to celebrate 90th birthday

Local artist asked to spruce up lemon

LEMON GROVE (KGTV)-- The iconic Lemon Statue that welcomes visitors and locals to Lemon Grove will celebrate its 90th birthday on July 4th. To mark the occasion, the city is giving it a fresh look and a new coat of paint.

"She usually only gets bathed once every six months," says Helen Ofield, the President of the Lemon Grove Historical Society. "So we wanted to do a bit more, fix her complexion, give her a makeover."

City workers put a new coat of yellow paint on the lemon last week. Then local artist Steve Garcia re-did the lettering that welcomes everyone to Lemon Grove.

"It's an honor to come here," Garcia says. "Basically, they want me to bring back the old-school font."

Garcia's art is all over the city. He painted a mural of lemon trees on an alley wall a few blocks from the lemon statue. He also says he was the first person to paint the now-famous "lips" on a rock near the 94 and Lemon Grove Avenue.

"I always said, when I was younger, my art's going to outlast me," Garcia says.

The Lemon started out as a parade float in 1928 for the Fiesta de San Diego 4th of July Parade. A few years later, it was turned into a statue, with "Best Climate on Earth" etched into the base. The new paint job will return the writing on the lemon to its 1960's-era design.

Garcia says the way he'll paint the lemon matches the way he lives his life.

"You breathe out to calm down," Garcia says. "A lot of people hold their breath when they paint and you can see their heartbeats. You gotta take a deep breath and breathe out and get those smooth strokes. It's the same with life, you gotta breathe, you know."

The ceremony to unveil the new painting will start at the statue at 10 am on July 3.

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