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Norwalk firefighters debut 'awesome' bicentennial duty shirt

Cary Ashby • Jun 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Norwalk firefighters already have received compliments on their new duty shirts.

But these aren’t just any T-shirts;  on the back, each one features a Norwalk bicentennial logo designed by Norwalk High School student Emily Swanson, who just completed her junior year. She is the daughter of Don and Teresa.

“I think it’s really cool,” said Swanson about knowing her design is a part of the city’s history. “I find it really cool and I can say I did that.”

Firefighters will wear the shirts in the summer and fall. A five-member committee from Norwalk Firefighters Local 1199 selected Swanson’s as the winner after art teachers from Norwalk and St. Paul high schools submitted three logos each.

“She did a great job,” said firefighter Ben Blodgett, who was inspired to get a duty shirt created that not only embodied Norwalk’s bicentennial, but also involved the community.

“It was unanimous to go with hers. They were all really sharp,” he added.

Swanson was asked what she thought of the finished product.

“I wasn’t really what I expected, but it’s better than I thought,” the 16-year-old girl said.

NHS art teachers Rachel Hipp and Tracy Van Buskirk gave Swanson’s design rave reviews.

“I love it; I think it’s great,” said Hipp, who believes the logo “pops” off the navy blue T-shirts.

Van Buskirk agrees.

“I think it looks awesome on the shirts,” she said.

Swanson incorporated the top of the Huron County Courthouse into a firefighter’s logo she found online.

“I decided to use oranges and yellows and reds because they are firemen,” Swanson said in an earlier interview. “Since it’s the bicentennial, I decided to use older (style) numbers and letters. I used banners to go with it because it’s the bicentennial.”

VanBuskirk gave the student some advice only on the scale of the lettering.

“The design is all hers,” the teacher said. “I talked with her about all the technical aspects of it. She took full ownership of it.”

Swanson’s father said he truly noticed just how talented his daughter is when she created a plaque for art class four years ago.

“We sat back and were like ‘wow,’” Don Swanson added. “She’s really creative. She just comes by it naturally. It’s freaky.”

But there may be a tradition of artistry in the family to enhance the teen’s natural gifts.

“My father was really good at drawing. My grandmother and her mom were artists. They actually painted for a living,” Swanson said.

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