Mason City youth leadership group painting historic Meredith Willson Footbridge

MASON CITY — The Mason City Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Investing Energy in Leadership Development group is in the process of giving a fresh coat of paint to the Meredith Willson Footbridge over Willow Creek.

Each year, the YIELD group completes a community impact project as a graduation requirement. YIELD students are high school juniors from Mason City High School, Newman Catholic High School and North Iowa Christian School, identified by school administrators and faculty as future leaders.

Claire Sampson of Mason City High School says the opportunity to paint the bridge came up and the group thought it would be perfect to make an impact in the community. “I feel very honored that I have the opportunity to do this because it’s such a special part of Mason City and it’s just a really important part of our history, and I feel honored that I can help restore it.”

Ava Watson of Mason City High School says a lot of people use the bridge and the group felt like painting it was the right project to choose.   “A lot of people come to visit this. I know a lot of people take pictures by it, walk across it.  A lot of people while we are painting have been walking across it, so I think that it’s really important that we are getting this done now.”

Both Sampson and Watson admit that painting the 900 feet of iron rails on the 450-foot long footbridge has been quite a task.   Sampson says, “I think we underestimated how long it is. It’s much longer than we thought, so it’s kind of a process and it does take a lot of time, but we really work together to get it done.” Watson says, “We didn’t anticipate it taking this long, and I don’t think any of us realized how long the bridge actually is. It’s pretty long, so it’s taken us some time but we’ll get it done.”

The footbridge was built in 1940 and is comprised of a steel arch, cement deck and an iron guardrail.