You may have noticed something new in Central Park in Mason City over the weekend. This year’s Leadership North Iowa class sponsored by the Mason City Chamber of Commerce partnered with Visit Mason City on a project to promote tourism and highlight Mason City’s attractions and assets.

The “Frame Mason City” project is installing large, attractive photo frames at prominent locations throughout the city, which allows people to capture themselves in the city with important landmarks, with the added benefit of promoting the community on social media.

Mariam Vahdat  and Donnie Miller were two of the 30 members of this year’s Leadership North Iowa class. They say it’s something that’s happening in other communities and thought it was an interesting concept for Mason City. “We were really fortunate to have a graphic designer from Bergland and Cram in our class, so we were able to kind of just tell her that we wanted to kind of touch on the Prairie School style architecture type of design, to kind of mimic the murals and other things going up as well,” says Vahdat. They say they combined three different designs for each location. “Right now we’re doing the one downtown, but we are doing another one in East Park. Of course there was not one that everyone could pick, this color from this one, but this design, these facts, so she was really great to have on board with us.”

The frame in Central Park allows people to capture the Historic Park Inn Hotel when facing one direction and other downtown buildings in the other direction. Miller says the East Park frame will also be in a desirable location for photos. “We wanted to make sure it had some sort of a site on both sides, so the one has got the “heart rock”, beautiful backdrop, and then the other side’s got the playground in the background with the swing set and everything, so your kids are playing back there, you can kind of get the backdrop of the Mason City sign, all that stuff. It’s a really nice project, I’m glad it’s all coming together, we’ve been working on it for months.”

Visit Mason City’s Lindsey James says “place making” by using social media is a growing trend.  “It’s something the Visit Mason City Board of Directors identified as something we wanted our organization to be involved with, so we established a ‘destination development committee’ to talk about what is our project look like or our program look like. The frames were an idea that rose to the top, and that was overwhelmingly approved by the board, they gave great support for it. Then it was perfect timing because the Leadership North Iowa class was looking for a community project and we were just so excited for the opportunity to team up and collaborate to bring this to fruition.”

James says people will take pictures with the frames, with the hopes that others will notice the Visit Mason City logo and hashtag #MasonCityIA to draw interest to the community.“It’s something that compliments what we’re already seeing with the sculptures and the mural. It’s something that visitors are going to notice when they’re in town, snapping pictures and hopefully be sharing them on social media, and then that gives us something that we can also share and use in our publications and on our website and our social channels, and just more promotion for the community.”) James says besides the frames in Central and East Parks, Visit Mason City has secured funding for three more frames that will be placed in locations soon to be determined.