Get Ready for The LadyBug Trail in Downtown Franklin
This ladybug, part of a town-wide art project in 2014, will be one stop installed this year on The Ladybug Trail, which will connect 25 business, historical and cultural sites around Franklin.
By J.D. O’Gara
What do ladybugs have to do with Franklin?
In 1974, Franklin’s John F. Kennedy School second-grade students and their teacher, Palma Johnson, petitioned the state to name the ladybug Massachusetts’ state insect and subsequently witnessed it signed into law.
“The elementary school, JFK, rallied the state to make the ladybug the state bug,” said Beth Simon who along with Claire Griffin were members of the Franklin Cultural Council in 2014 hat initiated the ladybug public art project. In the end, 25 ladybugs were painted by various artists, sponsored by local businesses and residents.
Now, a project is underway to feature several those ladybugs on a trail in downtown Franklin.
The Ladybug Trail will use ladybug sculptures to tie approximately 25 historical and cultural sites in downtown Franklin together. Visitors will walk along the trail using a digital map and view signage detailing the history of Franklin and the names of the artists who painted the ladybugs.
Lisa Piana, of the Franklin Downtown Partnership, says the ladybug mounted on the side of the building in which her organization resides received such an enthusiastic response, she began asking other businesses, such as Dean Bank and Keefe Insurance, to put them up. “I thought it would be a great idea to connect them,” says Piana, and apparently, she wasn’t alone. Everyone she called agreed to do it.
When Covid came, she and members of the Ladybug Trail Committee, which represents key organizations in the Franklin community, including the FDP, Franklin Cultural District, and Historical Commission, worked behind the scenes with the different business owners, tracking down each ladybug. Members of the committee also include Beth Simon, Roberta Trahan, Pandora Carlucci, Mary Olsson, Melanie Hamblen, Eileen Mason, and Jane Curran.
By the end of the summer, Piana anticipates that 15 of the original ladybugs will be mounted at various locations in town. In addition, some of the sites on the ladybug trail will feature a mural, some public art, or something of historic significance.
“We are so excited to bring together several organizations in Franklin to make this project a reality,” said Lisa Piana, Executive Director of the FDP and chair of the Ladybug Trail Committee. “Our vision is to have visitors and residents alike enjoy the opportunity to walk the downtown trail and visit the unique businesses along the way, as well as view the historical and cultural sites.”
A recent grant to the FDP from the Franklin Cultural District and the Massachusetts Cultural Council will help fund a portion of the ladybug installations.
Although the list has yet to be finalized, Simon’s Furniture, Dean College, Agway and THE BLACK BOX are among those businesses that have agreed to put ladybugs up. Some stops along the trail, will feature artwork, such as the alleyway on East Central Street, which will feature a mural. The FDP is coordinating a number of public art projects that will be included on the trail. “It has been a fun experience working with five talented artists from the Franklin Art Association to paint murals in what will be known as ‘Flower Alley’ on East Central Street,” Piana said. “This will be just one of the 25 stops along the way”. Stops will include 12 business sites, six cultural sites and seven historical sites.
By summer end, visitors to the downtown area will have a digital guide to the stops.
“We’re working on a very detailed digital map,” says Piana. The map, with audio, is expected to be completed sometime in August.
“It’s going to be really exciting for people to come down and see what ladybug’s going to be up now. It’s really an invitation for people to come down. This is a true economic development project in that we’re hoping it will encourage people to really enjoy Franklin center, and hopefully, also dine and shop in the downtown center.”
To learn more about the Ladybug Trail project, please contact Lisa Piana at [email protected]