Austinites install South Congress ‘floral graffiti’: a love letter to winter storm helpers


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The corner of a covered pedestrian walkway on South Congress Avenue is blooming with gratitude.

Billy Mercer, an Austinite, was “moved beyond words” by how the community has stepped up for one another in the wake of February’s winter storm.

Billy Mercer posing for a picture in front of the flower arrangement (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

“I lost water for a good five days and I can’t tell you how many countless friends and people I did not know were like, ‘If you need a shower, come over’ or ‘If you need some water, I have a bathtub full, come bring your buckets.’ I mean I just got chills hearing that again,” Mercer said. “This is just from one Austin local to other local Austinites. Just hopefully spread a little love, spread a little cheer. We could all use a little positivity these days.”

So, he and a handful of his friends installed “floral graffiti” Friday night along a stretch of construction hoarding on South Congress.

“I’ve always had a love for flowers and nothing brightens my day more than getting flowers, so after the trauma we all experienced… I just wanted to make people smile cause I know I needed it,” Mercer said.

The flowers are a “love letter” to Mercer’s fellow Austinites.

Mercer came up with the idea last Monday as a way to say “thank you” to neighbors helping neighbors.

“We are a strong community and we’re stronger together,” Mercer said.

He called his friend, floral designer Antonio Bond from Transplants Floral, and together they came up with the idea of a “floral graffiti” installation. At first, it was meant to be a small install, but more friends and residents pitched in.

“At the end of the day, we just wanted to create something that would bring smiles to as many faces as possible,” Mercer said in a ReportIt email to KXAN. “[We] put our hearts and souls into creating this moment for Austin. A love letter to our fellow Austinites, if you will… Friends helping friends, does it get more Austin than that?”

Passersby are welcome to come and take flowers. The South Congress installation will remain there for a couple more days. He plans to install more with his friends around town, including places like hospitals, etc.

“We’re not gonna tell you when and where, that’ll be a surprise. But we’re so excited about it and we’re gonna actually come take this one down either tonight or tomorrow, so if you’re ever in South Congress area, please feel free to take a few blooms home, throw them in the vase. They’ll last a good few more days. So take a little bit of this art project with you home,” Mercer said.

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