Commissioned by Experience Yardley, the mural painted on the side of the Firehouse Cycles building at 15 South Main Street, celebrates everything Yardley from borough hall and the Old Library to Lakeside, the Underground Railroad and the historic Delaware Canal.
The imagery featured in the mural is taken from the book, “Images of Yardley,” compiled by borough historian Vince Profy and published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its “Images of America” series.
“We’re here to celebrate something special,” said Experience Yardley President David Appelbaum, standing in front of the colorful mural. “Only a few short months ago this was a blank canvas,” he continued. “Now it is a focal point of our town. And I want to thank Tony Napoli and his crew of students and friends who came out to make this happen.”
The mural was designed by retired Pennsbury art department chair Tony Napoli and painted by Napoli and a team of students and friends from Pennsbury. For nearly 30 years, Napoli coordinated the renowned Pennsbury Prom, transforming the high school in Fairless Hills into an evening to remember with eye-popping murals and breathtaking displays.
“Tony had the best design that represented the town, the community, the history. And his vision has come to light right here,” said Appelbaum.
The mural has been a bright spot in an otherwise challenging year for Experience Yardley, which was forced to suspend many of its activities in 2020, including Music on Main, Second Saturday and Canal-O-Ween.
“In this era of hardship, this brings good feelings to the community,” he said. “And we needed a positive. This will also have an economic impact on our businesses for many years to come because it will draw people here to our town center to see it, have their pictures taken next to it and spread the word about Yardley,” said Appelbaum.
Moving forward, Appelbaum said he and the Experience Yardley officers will be focusing on the positives like the mural while they continue to promote the community as a destination for shopping, eating, visiting and experiencing.
“We have had a reinvention of our group. And we have shifted, for now, from doing events to place-making projects. This is our first and most glorious place-making project. And it is our gift to the residents of Yardley,” he said to applause. “But none of this would have happened without one other person - our founder and former President - Jef Buehler.”
Buehler, he said, is the visionary behind Experience Yardley, a nonprofit organization created to engage in creating and managing community events and placemaking projects that show off Yardley's charm, natural assets and great downtown.
“Sitting here during a concert in 2016 I had a dream that included outdoor seating and tables, cafe lighting, beautiful planters and a fantastic mural,” said Buehler.
“And not just any mural,” he continued. “It needed to be something iconic, something authentic to Yardley Borough that residents could be proud of and that would serve as a modern day postcard on social media that would put Yardley, Pa. - the only Yardley in the Western Hemisphere - further on the map,” he said thanking the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Visit Bucks County and especially Tom Cramer who allowed Experience Yardley to use the side of his building for the mural and bought into the concept of Music on Main and became a key investor in the creation of Buttonwood Plaza.
“Because of all of that this is real and I am grateful very much for all who made that happen,” said Buehler.
The gathering also heard from US Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, State Senator Steve Santarsiero and State Rep. Perry Warren who commended Experience Yardley on the newest addition to town and presented flags and citations to mark the occasion.
“I just think this is the coolest thing,” said Fitzpatrick of the mural. “And if you want to know how unique this is, there’s a spotted lantern fly painted on there just to make it current and up to date with the times. There’s going to be a lot of people coming here to have their pictures taken with the hashtag and I’m looking forward to seeing them.”
Santarsiero expressed his thanks to Buehler for his leadership over the years and his vision to energize the borough and transform it into a destination.
“Downtown Yardley is well on its way to that point,” he said. “There are things happening here that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes and they are wonderful. And what we’re going to do in the next few decades I’m excited to see. This is just one example - this vision of having outdoor space - is something I hope we continue to do ... This is a wonderful thing for the borough.”
State Rep. Warren, who’s legislative office is located just down the street, said Yardley offers the perfect blend of business and nature with a growing and expanding Main Street and the historic Delaware Canal and Lake Afton just a short walk away.
“My wife Liz and I have always been big Bruce Springsteen fans. So it was especially cool to drive by and to see this mural here. It is so reminiscent of so many great memories. This is a wonderful town, a wonderful day and thank you to Experience Yardley and Tony Napoli and his students for creating this new landmark in town.”
The mural project is funded by donors and grants from the PA Council on the Arts, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and Visit Bucks County.
To mark the occasion, Experience Yardley handed out free cookies baked by Cramer’s Bakery and depicting the new mural. They also debuted new postcards featuring the mural and now on sale at Commonplace Reader on South Main Street.