Sandy Beach murals honor two Honolulu Ocean Safety lifeguards

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Dec. 22—Artists have completed four murals at Sandy Beach Park commemorating two Honolulu Ocean Safety lifeguards.

The Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation announced on Tuesday the completion of the murals, which surround a comfort station at the beach park, of former lifeguards Joy Keahipuakauikawekiu Mills-Ferren and Joshua "Goat " Guerra.

"I am extremely thankful to be trusted with this mural, " said Luke DeKneef, the primary artist of the murals, in a statement. "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 murals, valued at $20, 000, were donated to the city by Worldwide Walls, formerly known as POW ! WOW !, and The Creative City, with assistance from Montana Cans and mural artists DeKneef, Noveck and Fay.

At a blessing ceremony, Mayor Rick Blangiardi was joined by dozens of Ocean Safety lifeguards, DPR staff, community members and family members to witness the completion of the murals.

"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, " Blangiardi said in a statement. "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."

Mills-Ferren, according to a city news release, had started working with Ocean Safety as a lifeguard in 2001, and spent three years at Sandy Beach Park and Makapuu Beach Park. She then moved to Hawaii island, where she continued working as a lifeguard.

Mills-Ferren followed in the footsteps of her father, Ocean Safety Captain Joe Mills. She was also an award-winning hula dancer, surfer and prolific athlete, according to the city news release.

Guerra moved to Oahu from Kansas in 1994 and served as an Ocean Safety lifeguard from 2004-2018. He was was a jet ski operator along the Ka Iwi Coastline before being promoted to lieutenant.

Guerra's nickname "Goat " was in reference to his "curly, long hair, fearless mountaineering skills, boisterous abilities as a drummer, lighthearted ways, and propensity for inspiring laughter in others, " according to the city news release.

Mills-Ferren, born in Honolulu on March 21, 1970, died on Aug. 3, 2018, at the age of 48. Guerra, born in Fresno, Calif., on May 11, 1976, died on Aug. 22, 2018, at the age of 42.

Correction : A previous version of this article misspelled Montana Cans.

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