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Murals At Sandy Beach Park Pay Tribute To Ocean Safety Lifeguards
Two murals memorialize lifeguards Joy Keahipuakauikawēkiu Mills-Ferren and Joshua “Goat” Guerra
Friends, family, and former coworkers of Joy Milles-Ferren and Joshua Guerra circled around the Sandy Beach Park comfort station #2 as the murals were blessed.
O‘AHU – A blessing today marks the completion of four murals at Sandy Beach Park paying tribute to our ocean lifeguards, in particular two exemplary rescuers whose respective impacts on their communities reverberate beyond their untimely passages.
The likeness of Joy Mills-Ferren and Joshua Guerra now accompany two other murals surrounding the comfort station on the Makapu‘u-side of the popular beach park. Joy and Josh both served as Ocean Safety lifeguards at Sandy Beach Park, and other beaches around Hawai‘i, and both are recognized as personifying the highest traits of compassion through their service and personal lives.
“It is such a privilege to celebrate vibrant pieces of public art, particularly those which pay tribute to our dedicated lifeguards who put themselves in harm’s way to keep their communities safe,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “These types of murals not only tell the stories of the areas they inhabit, but of the people who enjoyed and protected these lands, particularly Joy and Josh. Now, with these memorial images in place they will forever keep watch of this pristine coastline.”
At the blessing ceremony, Mayor Blangiardi was joined by dozens of Ocean Safety lifeguards, Parks and Recreation staff, community members, and family of Joy and Josh to witness the completed murals. This public artwork serves not just as a memorial to these two rescuers, but as a recognition to the life-saving efforts of all lifeguards and first responders.
"Always smiling, Josh's sense of duty was equal to his sense of fun,” said Randy Allard, Josh’s mom. “He loved the people, the ocean and his adopted home of Hawai‘i. He would be so honored by this remembrance. Mahalo to everyone involved in this lovely project.”
“On behalf of the Mills ‘ohana of Hawaiʻi, Mahalo Nunui to the Mayor Rick Blangiardi, his staff, Council Chair Tommy Waters, Councilmember Augie Tulba, and the Council Parks Committee for this mural, a beautiful tribute to my Kiaʻi Ola (Lifeguard) daughter, Joy Keahipuakauikawēkiu Mills which we proudly share with all Kiaʻi Ola of the City and County of Honolulu,” said Kupuna L. Leilani Mills, Joy’s mother. “We truly appreciate the tireless efforts of the artists and Worldwide Walls for their Aloha in contributing their talents to this project. Even during some challenging weather, they managed to meet their deadline, “ʻAʻole Pilikia (No Problem)”, in their words. I also want to note that this is a first for our City Lifeguards who in 2017, at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center, celebrated 100 years of service to the people of Honolulu. Me Ke Aloha Pau ʻole to all Kiaʻi Ola. E Holomua Kākou – letʻs continue to support them as they continue to move forward!”
Joy Keahipuakauikawēkiu Mills-Ferren was born on March 21, 1970 in Honolulu and worked as a lifeguard for the City and County of Honolulu before moving to Hawai‘i Island where she also worked as a lifeguard. Joy continued the family tradition of serving as an ocean protector, following the footsteps of her father and legendary Ocean Safety Captain Joe Mills. She worked as Honolulu Ocean Safety Lifeguard for several years beginning in 2001, during which time she spent three of those years saving lives and guarding public safety at Sandy and Makapu‘u beach parks. Additionally, Joy effortlessly perpetuated the Hawaiian culture through her vocational experience saving lives around O‘ahu and Hawai‘i, and as an award-winning hula dancer, avid surfer, prolific athlete, and coordinator for various cultural events. She unfortunately passed away from an untimely death on August 3, 2018 at the age of 48.
Joshua “Goat” Guerra was born May 11, 1976 in Fresno, California, graduated from high school in Leawood, Kansas in 1994, and Texas Christian University in 1998 before moving to O‘ahu to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a lifeguard. Joshua served as a Honolulu Ocean Safety Lifeguard from 2004 to 2018, during which time he advanced through the ranks, occupying positions as a jet ski operator along the Ka Iwi Coastline before being promoted to Lieutenant. He was affectionately given the nickname of “Goat” for his curly, long hair, fearless mountaineering skills, boisterous abilities as a drummer, lighthearted ways, and propensity for inspiring laughter in others. He also passed away from an untimely death on August 22, 2018 at the age of 42.
“I am extremely thankful to be trusted with this mural,” said Luke DeKneef, the primary mural artist. “While painting the portrait of Josh Guerra I felt him challenging me to be resilient; while we worked on Joy Mills-Ferren’s image we felt protected and blessed by her presence. My team of Ran Noveck and Faith Fay were able to execute a body of work that is truly inviting and uplifting to the community with its many elements. The ‘iwa bird represents new beginnings keeping us on our toes and pushing us to be prepared as lifeguard always are. The massive party wave has been incorporated as it’s all about the fun and looking out for each other. With the ocean and waves always changing, you have to be both in the moment and go with the flow when surfing these turbulent waves. You see a wave approaching on the horizon, you paddle for it, and if you’re lucky you catch it and still don’t know what it’s going to do. Such is life at Sandys.”
The murals were gifted to the City and County of Honolulu from Worldwide Walls (formerly POW! WOW!), The Creative City, with assistance from Montana Cans, mural artists Luke DeKneef, Ran Noveck, and Faith Fay. Special thanks to Jasper Wong for his efforts to make this mural a reality, Shannon Tuinei, and to the community for their support. Finally, mahalo to our Ocean Safety ‘ohana, some of whom imprinted their hands on the images of Joy and Josh as a final farewell to their fallen rescuers.
More information about the gift and the memorial murals can be found via City Council Resolution 21-246 and Resolution 21-247.
If you need an auxiliary aid/service, other accommodations due to a disability, or an interpreter for a language other than English in reference to this announcement, please contact the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation at (808) 768-3003 on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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