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Interns spruce up city's 'Burger Family'

Longtime icons on 10th Avenue get a fresh coat of paint

Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - City of Hillsboro interns Joscelyn Martinez, Scott Ackerman and Karissa Pavlik prep the Burger Dad for a new coat of paint.Next time you pass the Shute Park Aquatic & Recreation Center on Southeast 10th Avenue, be sure to slow down and check out the Burger Family’s new look.

The Burger Family from Hillsboro’s former A&W got a brand-new paint job over the summer, courtesy of three of the city’s teen interns.

Ten interns were selected to participate in the city of Hillsboro’s new summer internship program: five members of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and five participants in the PCC Future Connect Program in partnership with WorkSystems, Inc.

“The Burger People project was a unique community-service based activity to teach interns about a fun piece of Hillsboro’s history,” said Kristi Wilson, management analyst and intern coordinator for the city of Hillsboro. Interns Karissa Pavlik, Scott Ackerman and Joscelyn Martinez scrubbed and painted the family.

For decades, the Burger Family was a familiar sight at the Hillsboro A&W. After the A&W closed in 1986, the larger-than-life fiberglass figures were relocated to the Papa Aldo's restaurant on 10th Avenue and repainted in the red, white and green of the Italian flag. In 1990, the figures were donated to the city, and then in 1993 they were placed in a small plaza along 10th Avenue and became a part of the city’s public art collection.

“Some would argue whether the Burger Family is art,” said Valerie Otani, Hillsboro’s public art program supervisor, “but part of our responsibility in having a public art collection is maintenance. A portion of the funds allocated for public art is being reserved to make sure that we take good care of our collection.”

There’s a serious side and a not-so-serious side to the family’s facelift.

“We tried to be historically accurate,” Otani said. “The paint colors were custom-mixed to match the previous paint, ignoring the Italian phase or the sparkly metallic red dress on one of Mama’s previous layers."

But when it came to the burger meat, Otani had to make a command decision.

“The last coat of paint had the burger meat painted black, and we opted for brown as being more appetizing. The thick white layer in the burger also caused comment from the interns and passersby. Is it an onion ring or a huge amount of mayonnaise?”

Anyone with memories of the burger family can share them on Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council’s Facebook page: facebook.com/hillsboroarts.

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