If you have visited Jacó anytime after September 2019, you might have noticed some unusual activity throughout the busy, picturesque town. Perhaps you saw small groups of people huddled around the numerous light posts along the main strip of Avenida Pastor Diaz from Jacó Walk to Calle Ancha. What was going on?

Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds were embellishing the light posts with paintings of tropical Costa Rica flora and fauna. With close to 50 participating businesses supporting this initiative, that is also the approximate number of completed posts.

The community beautification project was largely facilitated by Hanna Rico Fletcher, a local business owner and leader of Ocean’s Edge Ministries, and her husband, Shawn Fletcher. The couple lives in Jacó with their two children, McKayla and Davin. Hannah is also the principal artist behind most of the light post images painted in vibrant red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple and brown colors. Showcased on long stretches of the streetway you’ll find sea turtles, scarlet macaws, hibiscus flowers, palm trees and waves, just to name a few of her specialties. 

Highlights of my recent conversation with Fletcher are as follows.

You could sponsor a pole for the small cost of cleaning it.

How did the Jacó light post project come to fruition? 

It was a project that Ocean’s Edge Ministries really wanted to undertake, while the Jacó Chamber of Commerce had the same idea on its own. When the project idea was brought up, my husband and I, who belong to the Chamber, became the members who organized the project through our business. Juan Carlos from the Chamber, and also Maria from Hielo Jacoo, were a big help in getting the permission we needed. The light posts are the property of Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE). We started rallying the community and businesses for support. You could sponsor a pole for the small cost of cleaning it, which helped provide employment for street workers in Jacó. The paint was all donated, along with the brushes. 

How was the work carried out?  

Mostly it was Ocean’s Edge missions team members who were out there doing most of the painting, along with volunteer residents of the community. They all worked together, often under a hot sun, putting in long hours to get the poles done. We also had volunteers from Horizon Church, including many kids who are part of the church’s youth group. 

Some of the businesses that sponsored light posts are found on the We Are 611 Facebook page. I created the We Are 611 hashtag to represent who we are as the community of Jacó. 

What kind of feedback did you get while you were painting, from other businesses and community members?

The feedback we got was incredible — nothing but ridiculously positive feedback from everybody!

We’d go out there and paint. People would stop and give us cold water, or just say thank you or congratulate us. A lot of tourists would even stop and start painting with us. Business owners and workers would walk out to share with us how excited they were. If they wanted to join us in painting a light post, we would hand them brushes. 

How has the project been personally satisfying to you as a resident of Jacó?

It was a gift that we could give the community that would keep on giving. Every time I go down the main road through Jacó and look at the painted light posts it makes me happy. It brings light to the community and to my day. 

“My favorite aspect of this project was seeing people from different backgrounds join together for a cause. I saw people painting and laughing together that normally may not have connected on their own. It was inspiring to see locals, tourists, and business owners all come together and take pride in Jacó to make it even more beautiful. A local woman told me that the light posts give her hope everytime she walks by them. I am honored to have been a part of a project that brings unity and hope.” 

— Sarah “Rita” Hoss, Ocean’s Edge Team Member

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