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Owners explain Racine's smiley garage

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RACINE — For the past three years, a garage adjacent to Lockwood Park in Racine has taken on a personality all its own.

A face painted on the side of a two-car, unattached garage presides over sporting events in the summer and the sledding hill in the winter.

“It’s a take off on the smiley face,” Mike McNulty said.

Mike and Barbara McNulty’s property sits at the intersection of Westway Avenue and Virginia Street, but the face is in the back, facing the field.

It’s became sort of a local landmark.

“They tell the football teams: Go to the field with the smiley face and everyone knows where it is,” Mike McNulty said.

So why would they spend an afternoon painting their garage to look like a face and then keep it up for years?

It started when Barbara had a bad day and needed a pick-me-up.

“I was having a rough time and needed a smile. It was a very trying time at that time,” Barbara McNulty said. “I came home and said ‘We really need to do something.’ “

While it was her idea, Mike was all for it because he had a little experience with this particular subject.

“I had a small smiley face on a barn 4 foot in diameter,” Mike McNulty said.

It’s still visible on the side of a red barn on a farm in the 4110 block of 4th Street, Somers. The new owners haven’t taken it down.

While the McNultys could have picked any real life emoji for their house, they chose the happy face.

“When you smile, then she smiles, and then everyone smiles. It’s a little contageous,” he said.

Barbara agrees, and that’s why they have no plans to take it down anytime soon.

“When I smile, it changes my attitude, believe it or not. Try it. Smile from within and it will psychologically change your attitude or mood for the day,” Barbara McNulty said.

They said they love to hear the children play in the field behind their house and that makes them happy, too.

“The grandkids play soccer out there and they’re very proud. They say, ‘That’s my grandma’s house!’ “

Barbara wanted to go further and paint a Santa hat for Christmas and rabbit ears for Easter. Mike vetoed that idea.

“Oh, no. This is as far as we’re going to go,” Mike McNulty said.

Barbara is still hoping to change his mind with a minor change.

“I want to add eyelashes. He’s been a boy for three years. It’s time for a change,” Barbara McNulty said.

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