1776-1976 at prado dam

Prado Dam Restoration Continues: Resurrecting 1776-1976

Welcome back, friends, passionate supporters and fellow Prado Dam Mural enthusiasts! For those who don’t know, we at One Way Painting were honored with the responsibility of restoring the vintage mural in 2023. As the best Dam Painters in Orange County, our journey is well underway with great success thus far. In this third progress report, we are excited to share a remarkable update in our restoration journey at Prado Dam: the revival of the iconic years 1776-1976. Join us as we unveil the rich tapestry of history woven within these years and pay homage to the enduring legacy of our great nation.

1776-1976 at prado dam on the bicentennal freedom mural
1776-1976 on Restored Bicentennial Freedom Mural

Celebrating America’s Journey: 200 Years of Resilience and Progress

The years 1776-1976 on the mural at Prado Dam hold deep significance, representing pivotal moments in our nation’s history. In 1776, the birth of America’s independence set the stage for a nation built on liberty and self-governance. It marks the beginning of our journey towards freedom and embodies the values that define us as a nation. Moving ahead to 1976, the U.S. Bicentennial celebration marked 200 years of progress and unity. The inclusion of this year pays tribute to this remarkable milestone and showcases the spirit of volunteerism and unity that defined the Bicentennial era – the largest volunteer movement in peacetime history. It serves as a testament to our strength as a diverse and united nation.

Prado Dam Mural Restored to Full Glory, Images by Alan Sturm

Additionally, the presence of the 13 stars within the years 1776-1976 adds another layer of symbolism. These stars represent the original 13 colonies that bravely declared their independence and laid the foundation for our nation. They serve as a visual representation of unity and the collective efforts that shaped our history. Together, these elements capture the essence of our nation’s journey, reminding us of the progress we have made and the enduring values that have guided us.

Restoring the Years 1776-1976 at Prado Dam

Let’s now embark on the next phase of our restoration journey: painting these significant years. Since certain parts of these years were completed while painting the Liberty Bell, we have only 5 days let of work to complete these years. But before we dive in, let’s take a moment to recap our progress thus far.

Recap of Our Journey So Far

  • With 13 days down and 11 to go, we’re over the halfway mark of our 24-day restoration project at Prado Dam.
  • We took two days to survey and map the vintage mural prior to its removal. Then, starting on April 3rd, we took 11 days to restore ‘200 YEARS OF FREEDOM’, the Liberty Bell, and the white backdrop around these elements.
  • As of Monday, April 17, 2023, freedom and liberty were restored to the spillway. Concurrently, our efforts towards the year 1776 have yielded substantial results. By this point, we have completed the blue outline of each number in 1776, painted the 7 white stars within the year, and begun painting the white stripes within the initial numbers.
Restoration Progress on Monday, April 17, 2023 leaves the Liberty Bell completed. Additionally, the blue outlines of the numbers in the year 1776 and the white stars within the year were completed.

Prep Work: Laying Out the Years 1776-1976

It’s likely evident to you by now that preparation is our middle name here at One Way Painting. Just as we’ve done for every progress report, this phase kicked off with meticulous prep work. Before diving into the restoration of the years 1776-1976 at Prado Dam, we invested time in precise measurements and layout. Our goal? To faithfully bring back the numbers, stripes, and stars, paying homage to the original design.

Painting the Foundational Year 1776

Picking up right where we left off on April, 17th, we continued painting the details in the year 1776 over the next two days, April 18th and 19th. As we painted the white stripes within the year, we also painted the white background around it.

Painting the Bicentennial Year 1976

With 1776 complete, we turned our attention to the year 1976 on the mural. Over three dedicated days, our team brought the year 1976 back to Prado Dam. We completed the first few numbers ‘197’ in 1976 on April 20th and April 21st, starting with the blue outline of the numbers followed by the red stripes and then the white stripes and white background around the year.

Our journey towards completing the year 1976 reached its pinnacle on Monday, April 24th, as we put the finishing touches on the number 6, the last piece needed to fully restore the monumental year.

A Grand Display of the Monumental Years

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of a single digit; these numbers are anything but ordinary.

painting the years 1776-1976, up close images

Towering at an impressive height of nearly 90 feet and spanning over two-thirds of the gigantic 664-foot mural, these numbers command attention and make a lasting impression on all who see it.

And the stars of the show, they’re no joke either, standing tall at 21 feet from tip to tip. Just take a look at Jim McCabe in this photo, completely stretched out and still unable to touch the star’s tips.

Jim McCabe laying down within one of the stars on the years 1776-1976 at prado dam

From Above: Alan Sturm’s Awe-Inspiring Aerial Artistry

As the day drew to a close, we took a step back and marveled at the iconic years 1776-1976 on the mural. Thanks to the remarkable aerial photography captured by FAA certified drone pilot, Alan Sturm, you can now witness the breathtaking view that greeted us on that memorable Monday, April 24, 2023.

Bicentennial Freedom Mural with "200 YEARS OF FREEDOM", the liberty bell without the crack and the completed years 1776-1976
1776-1976 Restored at Prado Dam on 4/24/2023 – Drone Images by Alan Sturm

Navigating Challenges: Painting the Years 1776-1976

Painting the years 1776-1976 posed challenges with intricate detailing and the need for three colors: red, white, and blue. Changing colors risked wasted paint during equipment cleaning. To overcome this, we used a strategic painting sequence, working on the same color sections simultaneously. This approach saved time, resources, and kept costs low, resulting in a remarkable restoration.

Featured on Channel 4 News!

This restoration has received lots of media attention, and this week was no different. On April 21st, the local Channel 4 news showcased a thrilling moment for our community – a glimpse of the Prado Dam mural restoration. It was an exciting day for us at One Way Painting too, with our owner Jeff McCabe and his brother Jim taking center stage during the news segment.

Being part of this community project means the world to Jeff, and he is beyond grateful for the chance to contribute his skills to such a meaningful endeavor. As a Bicentennial baby himself, he feels a special connection to the historic significance of the mural and is honored to be part of the restoration.

Thanking Our Remarkable Sponsors of the Years 1776-1976

At this point, we want to give a huge shout-out to the incredible individuals who made the restoration of the years possible through their generous sponsorships. Each number in the years 1776-1976 was sponsored with a $10,000 donation, contributing an outstanding $80,000 in total.

Veteran Air: Official Sponsor of the the Mural and 1776

We want to extend a massive thank you to Veteran Air for their remarkable support and generous donation of $40,000, which allowed them to sponsor all four numbers in the year 1776.

Veteran Air’s generous contribution stands as the single largest donation towards the restoration project. Their contribution has made a lasting impact on the restoration, and we are truly grateful for their exceptional support.

Thank you, Veteran Air, for your remarkable contribution and for being an integral part of this restoration journey.

Sponsors of the Year 1976

Moving ahead to the year 1976, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following number sponsors who generously supported the sponsorship of this significant year:

Sponsors of the 13 Stars

Not only did people sponsor each number in the years, but the 13 significant stars on the mural were also proudly sponsored. Each star, along with the dash between the years, received a generous $1,000 donation, resulting in a combined contribution of $13,000 towards the restoration. We express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the following star sponsors:

  • star #1 – The Kasbar Family
  • star #2 – Randolph Sanchez
  • star #3 – The Bywater Family
  • star #4 – In Memory of Tom & Nancy Hewitt
  • star #5 – In Memory of Richard Schmitz
  • star #6 – Kent & Diane Collins
  • star #7 – ClearPathFinancial
  • star #8 – Pietenpol Family
  • star #9 – Susan Sawyer in Memory of Mark Sawyer
  • star #10 – Cotter Family – star #10 in the “7” in “1976”
  • star #11 – Kahan Family
  • star #12 – Glenn B. Dorning Inc.
  • star #13 – Downs Energy
  • dash – Price Family dash ‘-‘ in the years “1776-1976”

Thanking Our Paint Donors

Last but not least, we want to thank our generous paint donors, Dunn Edwards and Rust-Oleum, who stepped up to provide all the paint needed for this project. We are incredibly grateful for both of these companies and their generous contributions that made the restoration of this monumental mural possible.

Time-Lapse Video: Restoring the Years 1776-1976

Prepare yourself to be wowed by this time-lapse video showing the restoration of the years 1776-1976 at Prado Dam. Witness our team’s daily progress as we bring back these gigantic numbers making up the 200 year timeline on the mural.


The restoration of the years 1776-1976 at Prado Dam serves as a tribute to our nation’s remarkable legacy. And now that its restored, these years can continue to inspire the community for generations to come. Thank you all for joining us today for this restoration update and we hope you found it as exciting as we did. We know the mural looks complete at this point, but we still have work ahead! Next time, we’ll be giving the entire mural a second coat of paint. You won’t want to miss it!

Up Next…

Follow along for more restoration updates to come!

More Prado Dam Mural Restoration Updates