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Why this Alabama town likes Pete the Cat


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Right in downtown Fort Payne is a set of bronze statues to honor nation supergroup Alabama, who notoriously comes from the little northeast Alabama town. And right throughout the street from them is a substantial mural of the town’s other super star, Pete the Cat.

In case you haven’t been around kids in the previous years, let me explain: The Pete the Cat kids’s book series is an international phenomenon. There are more than 100 books narrating the experiences of the calm, groovy cat (and its pals), and it doesn’t seem slowing down anytime quickly. The books have actually been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for numerous weeks, and they’ve been equated into more than a lots languages. There was even a four-season Amazon Prime Series where Elvis Costello and Diana Krall voiced a few of the characters. The precious cat even has star fans like Leonardo Dicaprio.

A painting in Pete the Cat Alley in downtown Fort Payne, Alabama.

But what is the popular blue feline’s connection to Fort Payne? The co-creator and illustrator of the series, James Dean, comes from the mountain town.

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Dean was born in the location, moved away, and after that returned for his high school years. He finished from Fort Payne High School (a little bit more about that in simply a sec), and went to Auburn University, finishing with a degree in electrical engineering. (He informed Auburn Magazine in 2019 that he preferred an art class over engineering classes when he was on the Plains.)  He relocated to Georgia to take an engineering job with Georgia Power prior to he advanced with the Pete the Cat series.

A painting in Pete the Cat Alley in downtown Fort Payne, Alabama.

And although Dean still resides in Georgia, he regularly drives over to Fort Payne to reveal love to his home town.

In August 2022, he painted the big Pete the Cat mural downtown on the old Sawyer building at the crossway of Gault Avenue North and fourth Street. (Yes, that’s right – he painted the mural in the Alabama August humidity, bless him.) It’s been considered “The World’s Tallest Pet the Cat Mural” by Visit Lookout Mountain, and it’s ideal for a selfie or 2.

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And remember what we said about Dean’s love of Fort Payne High School? He signed the mural, “FPHS, Class of ‘76.” Check it out:

Author, illustrator and Fort Payne native James Dean signed “FPHS Class of ’76” at the bottom of his huge Pete the Cat mural in downtown Fort Payne.

But that’s not the only Pete the Cat enjoyable you can discover in Fort Payne. The town commemorates Dean’s success. In 2017, a Pete the Cat street was established downtown, according to Fort Payne Main Street Director Connie Fuller. The street is filled with great deals of initial pieces of Pete the Cat art that integrate regional organizations, like Dekalb Theatre and Hamilton’s Drive-In. (And there might simply serendipitously be a roaming cat or 2 that roam around the location, according to Fuller.)

A Pete the Cat star in downtown Fort Payne, Alabama.

In real Hollywood Walk of Fame design, you can likewise discover a star on the walkway near the street that is committed to Pete the Cat. And if you are searching for more Pete the Cat goodies, take a look at Katherine’s Gallery and Custom Framing. It has lots of books and other souvenirs.

But once again, that’s not all.

The initially Saturday of each August, Fort Payne hosts Pete the Cat Day. Since 2017, Dean has actually driven over to the northeast Alabama town to take part. A restricted quantity of tickets to satisfy Dean for a sign session are distributed ahead of time, and there are constantly lots of kid-friendly activities on the program. At least a thousand individuals participate in every year.

According to Fuller, neither Fort Payne Main Street or Dean make any money off the event. She discusses, “He is kind enough to come over here and not charge us, and he does it because he loves Fort Payne.”

More Alabama town stories:

Why Brewton is ‘small-town Alabama at its best’

One Alabama town is amongst country’s most gorgeous, according to Architectural Digest

This Alabama muralist brings villages together

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