Town of Oswego firefighters try to restore 9/11 mural with mayonnaise

Since it was created in 2005, the colors on the mural had slowly faded

TOWN OF OSWEGO (WSYR-TV) - When mural artist Norman Roth climbed the wall of the town of Oswego Fire Hall in 2005, a solemn tribute to the heroes of the 9/11 tragedy flowed from his heart to his hands.

The job was personal. Roth is a veteran and a longtime member of the fire department.

"I know the guys in the fire department and that dedication and that concern with people and everyday life," Roth explains. "I just figured these firemen in New York (City) were probably the same kind of people."

The bright symbol of brotherhood he created has greeted members of his crew for more than a decade.

But with age and sunlight, their small piece of history would slowly fade under a chalky film.

"I just thought five months worth of work was out the window," he says. "I hung on scaffolding to do this thing and I'm not that young anymore."

Hoping to save the prized mural, Lieutenant Anthony Bivens contacted a paint store for advice.

"They actually e-mailed me back and said, 'try mayonnaise', which we got a good laugh out of. There was no way we were putting mayonnaise on the building," Lt. Bivens remembers. "Then, as we were sitting in the dayroom, the captain said, 'Well, why don't you just go out there and try it.'"

Lieutenant Bivens ran down to the local store, picked up two 25 fluid ounce containers of Hellmann's mayonnaise and set out to restore Roth's vision.

"We tried a little section and the color jumped right out on the side of the building," Bivens recalls.

Using a brush, he smeared every inch of the wall with ten dollars worth of that creamy spread.

"I just cringed over the idea of putting mayonnaise on a painting, so I didn't know what to expect," Roth adds. "It looks really fresh and really nice and it looks like it can stay a few more years."

For now, it appears that side of mayo just might have saved the town of Oswego Fire Department's tribute to their heroes.

"I'm very happy that it came back and maybe in the next ten years, we'll throw another coat of Hellmann's on it and we'll be good," Bivens adds with a chuckle.

Nobody on the fire crew really knows the long-term effects of spreading mayonnaise all over the building's wall. But, if he has to, Roth has offered to repaint the mural someday.

Click play above to see "before" and "after" photos of the painting!

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