About Viva Cuba
People’s Bank founded Viva Cuba, a beautification organization, in 1984. The new organization and its beautification projects complemented Cuba’s industrial development efforts.
Percy Pascoe, then-owner of the Cuba Free Press, named Viva Cuba, literally meaning, “Long live Cuba.” As companies came to visit Cuba with the intention of locating here, the committee realized there were a lot of eyesores. As a result, community leaders teamed up to spearhead a number of community betterment projects.
In 1987, Cuba became the first member of the Adopt-A-Highway program in the state of Missouri, adopting a 1.5 mile stretch of Highway 19. The city provided 315 tons of Potosi tiff, the Cuba Arts Council purchased over 1,000 burning bushes and nearly 200 trees were “adopted” through an Adopt-A-Tree program.
A chain reaction occurred as, one-by-one, businesses along the highway improved their appearance. In 1989, the city received the Governor’s Treescape Award. The city, Peoples Bank and Viva Cuba continue to fund the mowing, trash pick-up and trimming along the highway.
In 1991, Viva Cuba purchased a lot at the corner of Highway 19 and Washington St. and transformed an ugly space into Viva Cuba Garden. Generous donations of labor and money from businesses, organizations and members of the community made it possible. In the spring of 1994, Viva Cuba dedicated the Garden.
To celebrate Cuba’s sesquicentennial in 2007, Viva Cuba gave the park a much-needed facelift. Re-landscaping, building a brick wall, installing an 1873 replica of the Salem Branch train, and the painting of the state traffic control boxes adjacent to the park gives a very eye-appealing site in the middle of town. Viva Cuba Garden was re-dedicated in 2008.
In 2001, Viva Cuba participated in the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Growing Together program by providing local donations to landscape the I-44/Highway19 interchange to enhance its overall appearance.
Viva Cuba’s Mural Project, which was responsible for commissioning 12 outdoor murals on public buildings from 2001 to 2007, has created a lot of interest and beautified the Route 66 corridor. In 2002, Cuba was designated the “Route 66 Mural City” by the Missouri legislature. The murals continue to attract many tourists, as well as local people. With the community embracing the idea of public art, Cuba has become an “art friendly” town.
Viva Cuba also designed the “Mural City” shield logo and the “Mural City” candy bar. During the annual Cuba Fest, the organization gives narrated mural tours aboard a 1904-style motorized trolley.
Viva Cuba includes young people in the mural project by providing a mural curriculum for the schools and offering narrated walking tours for children during the summer.
Some of the organization’s other projects have included lighting the trees along Highway 19, purchasing Viva Cuba and Route 66 banners and Christmas pole decorations and landscaping at the Crawford County R II schools and Cuba’s Industrial Park. Fundraisers, such as the Chair-itable Auction, Chili Cook-off and Christmas Home Tour, along with the generosity of the community, allow Viva Cuba to continue to reach its dreams and visions as to what can be done to improve the quality of life in Cuba