When Mark Thomas was told that his design was chosen for the Town of Niagara's bicentennial logo, he learned the existing town seal also was designed by a Thomas in 1962.
Turned out that Thomas happens to be his mother.
With the town already making preparations to celebrate its birthday in 2012, the bicentennial committee decided one of the first things needed was a logo. The winning design, to be used on town bicentennial materials, was announced to the public at the opening of the town's summer concert series on June 30.
"This design was chosen because of its unique shape, it is designed in the town colors and the ship is the USS Niagara, a vessel from the War of 1812, which was what we wanted to incorporate in our bicentennial logo as well," said Sylvia Virtuoso, town clerk and bicentennial committee chairman.
Mark Thomas, 43, credits his wife, Linda, and his mother with encouraging him to enter the contest, although he didn't realize his mother had designed the seal, which features labor-oriented items, such as a hard hat, until he was informed he'd won.
Ruth Thomas teaches oil painting at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls.
"She really pushed art on me early in life," said her son Mark.
He and his brother Casey inherited their mother's artistic ability, but "the other two (siblings) would be hard to do stick figures," he said.
With his own 10-year-old twins, Emil and Erin, only Erin takes after him artistically, while 5-year-old Cameron "doesn't even like to pick up a box of crayons."
Thomas works in the motorcycle department of Goodyear Dunlop.
"They (his artwork) bring me in some money, but not enough to be considered a job," he said.
Although he used to do work painting designs on items such as motorcycles, instruments (guitars, drums), and even ceilings, he's been focusing lately on pen and ink drawings.
The contest also brought him a new interest. A historical war buff, he'd always "skipped over" the War of 1812.
"This area alone was so involved in it I was surprised," he said. "Now I have an 1812 flag waving outside my house."
Interestingly enough, although Thomas and his mother are artistically connected to the Town of Niagara, both live on Garlow Road, the border of Town of Niagara, but actually in the Town of Lewiston.