Despite all the crazy weather, the swim part of the triathlon went off pretty well. The team of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Police Department Marine Division Dive Team, Jamaica Beach Fire Rescue, Ironman crew, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the Kayak Club, collectively got nearly 3,000 athletes safely back to shore.

All told, there were 47 rescues, 87 swim assists, and two medial interventions for respiratory issues.

Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts to this, and a great deal of coordination is required. Special kudos go to Lt. Mike Reardon, who was our incident commander for the whole three-ringed circus. It’s a stressful job, but with his over 40 years working with the Beach Patrol, and a previous life as the head nurse for the John Sealy Emergency Room, he’s more than up for the task.

On another topic, someone with a special connection to the Galveston beach passed last week at 93 years of age. Dan Robbins, the father of “paint by numbers” found something special in Galveston. He came up with the idea in the ‘50s while working at Palmer Paints on kids’ painting sets.

He heard that Leonardo Da Vinci used numbered background patterns in his work, and used this idea to put together kits for adults. This idea met fertile ground at the time of the “do-it-yourself generation” where “every man” could fix a house, repair a car, or even paint a painting.

In the late ‘90s Dan and his son were working on a book called “What Ever Happened to Paint by Numbers?” They had it pretty much finished, but were looking for a way to wrap it up. They needed a final chapter. But they heard about something going on in Galveston that sounded intriguing.

After a couple of years working in New York as the art director for a nonprofit, I moved back to Galveston to try to do a large public art project. Working with my mom who was with the school district, artists Jane Young and Mike Janota, Sid Steffens (educator), Vic Maceo, Rhonda Greg as project coordinator, Maureen Patton and the Commission on the Arts, and 14,000 children, artists, and volunteers, we’d just completed a 2 ½ mile long paint by numbers project on the seawall.

Dan was floored when he and his son arrived. I met him and his son at a restaurant, and then we drove the entire mural from 25th Street to 61st Street. He loved seeing his original idea on such a grand scale. He also instantly loved Galveston and all the people he met while here.

Here in Galveston was a community that embraced a project that was a larger than life manifestation of his life’s work. If he hadn’t done what he did in the ‘50s, the paint by numbers concept wouldn’t be woven into our collective consciousness. It would never have occurred to me or countless other artists to use paint by numbers as a way to allow easy access to large art projects.

Peter Davis is chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. The views in this column are Davis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Park Board of Trustees or any other entity.

(2) comments

Bailey Jones

That seawall painting was a sweet idea. I'd love to see more concrete covered with color.

Jarvis Buckley

I definitely agree Bailey

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