Corn, a pharaoh and a face are painted on fire hydrants

A DeKalb business is doubling an incentive for community members who want to help beautify the City by taking part in the Paint-A-Plug program.

The DeKalb Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission (CCEC) is pleased to announce another year of the Paint-A-Plug initiative, where the community is encouraged to adopt a fire hydrant and turn it into a work of art.

There is no specific theme for the fire hydrants, but artists are encouraged to incorporate different elements of the community or their neighborhood into their art. You may have seen some of the previous creations including an ear of corn, an NIU Huskie and a pharaoh across from the Egyptian Theatre.

While no fee is required to participate in the Paint-A-Plug program, approved artists are responsible for providing their own materials for painting, and that’s where OC Creative comes in.

OC Creative has pledged to donate $100 to this year’s Paint-A-Plug artists to help defray some of the cost of materials.

"For the first 25 people who finish a Paint-A-Plug this year, improving their neighborhoods and expanding the art scene of our community, we would be delighted to provide a stipend to each one,” said OC Creative President and Creative Director Brian Oster.

A $50 incentive was offered by the business last year. That supported several projects including a designed dedicated to Northwestern Medicine nurses and two by the Basics DeKalb County program.

“Interest in the Paint-A-Plug Program continues to grow,” said CCEC Chair Brad Hoey. “The Citizens Community Enhancement Commission is excited and grateful that OC Creative is increasing its contribution in 2022, which we anticipate will inspire more members of our community to participate in this fun and popular public art project.”

Paint-A-Plug is not limited to only DeKalb residents. The CCEC encourages NIU students and alumni, DeKalb School District students and faculty, employees of DeKalb businesses and area artists to participate.

Questions on the program can be e-mailed to

How Paint-a-Plug works

Step 1: Download an application and design proposal

Step 2: Fill out your application and design proposal and email it to

Step 3: The CCEC and Fire Department will review and notify applicants (with greater detail) of approval or denial.

Step 4: If approved, you will be expected to paint your designated hydrant between April 1 and November 1.

Step 5: When done painting your hydrant, take a picture of your art, email your picture to and share it on social media using #ProudlyDeKalb.

Step 6: Check in on your art throughout the year; if it needs a touch up, please inform the City you will be maintaining your hydrant and do so.