FAIRBORN — When individuals take a stroll along Main Street in downtown Fairborn, they may notice miniature planes decorating the light poles.
The tradition started 12 years ago when Shwartz Jewelry Store Owner Pete Bates noticed other municipalities taking part in similar decorating and wanted to bring it to his own hometown.
He said he traveled around the country and noticed that Cincinnati hung pigs, Beavercreek hung beavers and Kittyhawk North Carolina hung horses and thought, “why not bring planes to Fairborn?”
The planes are made of PVC plastic and a plywood frame inside. They are sold to merchants and private individuals for $225 as part of a fundraiser for the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce. Plane purchasers are welcome to decorate the planes however they wish. Sherwin Williams decorates it plane with paint cans hanging off, while Swartz Jewelry has a diamond painted on its plane. The Foy’s stores have a plane with a horror theme painted on it as part of its decoration. Bates said some of the planes have a patriot theme.
Some purchasers have arranged for Fairborn High School or Fairborn Digital Academy art students to hand-paint their planes. Others have shrink-wrapped the planes and opted to have them custom-painted. From time-to-time, the planes get weathered and must be decorated again.
“I think the Fairborn planes are unique and set the historical district apart from other communities,” Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce Director Matt Owen said.
The planes can be purchased anytime of year by speaking with the chamber officials at 937-878-2191 or Bates at Swartz Jewelry at 937-878-8560. They should be decorated and turned in to the chamber by June 1 in order to be hung by the Fairborn Parks and Recreation Division in time for the Fourth of July events.
They are taken down after the Air Force Marathon runners pass through the Fairborn Flyzone. Swartz said at that time, the city begins to focus on decorating for the annual community Christmas celebration. The planes can be stored by the city or taken home.
The planes can also be drilled through the tailpipe and attached to the top of a chain-link fence for those who wish to decorate their yards with the planes.
“We get a lot of great compliments from folks who are in town to eat, shop [or attend] a downtown event,” Owen said. “It makes me feel so good to hear our airmen and military families compliment on the planes. It shows our community support and commitment to them.”