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"Yo Soy Lodi" mural in California's Central Valley celebrates unseen heroes

Inspirational unseen heroes highlighted in Lodi mural
Inspirational unseen heroes highlighted in Lodi mural 02:38

LODI — There's a colorful new display bringing a community together in San Joaquin County. It's a new mural called "Yo Soy Lodi," or "I Am Lodi," and celebrates ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Oscar Morales is the artist. He feels honored to be chosen to take on the tall task.

"It's a huge opportunity and a huge chance to express my cultural artistic way and share it with the community," Morales said.

It took him a month and a half to complete the mural in east Lodi, but before he could pick up a paintbrush, he needed to know each individual both past and present.

"As I was interviewing each one of the persons, I was making the sketch, the composition and that really inspired me all the things that they do to have a solid and united community," Morales said.

One of the leaders depicted on the wall is Sandra Vargas, founder of Central Valley Arts and Culture.

Dressed as Mexico's famous superhero El Chapulin Colorado, Vargas said that early in her career, she related to the noble character who unknowingly saves the day wielding a squeaky mallet.

"When I started working in the community, I found myself just like him little, without no power," she said.

She persisted. Now a leader in her community, Vargas' vision for the mural was to spotlight what she calls "unseen heroes" who inspire others.

"These are people who are familiar to them," she said. "So the fact that they can see them now in a mural, I want them to daydream that one day they could be them."

Another leader on the wall is Yadina Peña. She made headlines two years ago after she took matters into her own hands.

Noticing speeding drivers near her children's school, Peña wore a cow costume while waving a handmade stop sign and helping kids safely cross the street.

"I still do it every morning," Peña said. "I do my best to take care of other people's kids."

The Lodi Police Department recently nominated Peña for a citizen award for her volunteer work as a crossing guard. Peña said she plans to run for Lodi's city council district four next year.

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