NICEVILLE, Fla. — Clever and colorful hand-painted parking spaces have returned to the Niceville High School campus.
Niceville High School seniors began painting and personalizing their reserved parking spaces at the school during a recent kick-off painting party.
On July 30, dozens of students–many joined by friends, siblings, parents, and grandparents–started laying out and painting the parking spaces they reserved earlier in the week. The Wharf 850 was on site to celebrate the students and their artwork. So was Dippin’ Dots.
The project is a fundraiser for the school’s Student Government Association (SGA), said Gloria Martinez, SGA Secretary. She said the project will help fund the school’s homecoming activities and dance.
See more photos from the painting party here
The practice of seniors personalizing their school parking spaces in late summer is somewhat new to the high school. Apparently, the Class of 2018 was the first to do it back in August 2017, Martinez said.
Since then, she said interest in it waned, largely due to such things as the impact of COVID on the school and campus life, and the cost to the school associated with resurfacing the parking lot. The last time spaces were painted was in 2019, Martinez recalled.
“During my freshman year, I noticed a lack of participation by seniors,” she recalled. “Then, with COVID, it just stopped.”
Martinez said she did not want to see the personalized parking lot art gallery come to an end. She remembers the excitement her older siblings experienced when they painted their parking spaces at the school and wanted to live it herself.
“I have been looking forward to this since I was in middle school,” she said. “I wanted to bring it back.”
So, Martinez enlisted the support of friends and classmates and presented it as a fund-raising project to the SGA, which went on to embrace and sponsor it. With a plan in place to raise funds for both the resurfacing costs and homecoming, Martinez said the project received the blessing of Principal Charlie Marello.
The Wharf 850 was quick to partner with the SGA, which Martinez said was an immediate help in giving the project added weight with her classmates and generating higher interest among all NHS students.
“They were very generous,” said Martinez. “They helped us a lot.”
In addition to having Niceville’s wildly popular waterfront restaurant onboard to bring attention to the fundraiser, The Wharf 850 helped raise funds directly by bringing food to the painting party event. When it was over, The Wharf donated $450–all its proceeds from food sales–to the SGA. So did Dippin’ Dots, Martinez said, bringing the total to $700.
“We used The Wharf’s name and presence–and Dippin’ Dots, too– to generate interest. It worked really well for us.”
Martinez said the SGA sold 75 spaces to seniors, significantly more than in previous years. Seniors paid $30 for the spaces; $10 more than a regular reserved parking permit.
“We’re proud of Niceville High School and thrilled to see seniors bring back personalized parking spaces,” said Casey Jones, who co-owns and operates The Wharf 850 with his wife, Jami Jones.
Both said they enjoyed the parking lot artwork so much from previous years it was a no-brainer for them to partner with the SGA to help bring it back.
“All of the students are so incredibly creative, and some have real artistic talent,” said Jami. “They amaze me with the effort they put into their artwork.”
Seniors who decorate their parking spaces often spend 12 hours or more painting the space. Also, they must have their design preapproved by the school and purchase the paint.
Proceeds from the sale of the spaces, and the money donated by The Wharf 850 and Dippin’ Dots, will help pay expenses associated with this year’s homecoming activities, decorations, floats, and the homecoming dance.
“We chose homecoming because it benefits all students at Niceville High School,” said Martinez.