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Santa Barbara teen who died tragically honored at I Madonnari Festival

With their hearts and chalk in their hands, high school students from Santa Barbara drew a special portrait of their beloved friend, Connor O’Keefe.

Students from the Multimedia Arts and Design Academy (MAD) and the Visual Arts and Design Academy (VADA) took inspiration from a photo of O’Keefe and recreated it on the pavement at the Old Mission Santa Barbara at the I Madonnari Festival.

“We really wanted to show who he was as a person. We captured his eyes and beautiful smile in this picture,” said student Sadie Kimball.

O’Keefe,18, was tragically stuck and killed by a train in Montecito in March. O’Keefe was a senior at Santa Barbara High School and a MAD Academy student.

In the chalk drawing, O’Keefe is kneeling with his ever-present camera draped around his neck. The background of the drawing is bright yellow, like his disposition. O’Keefe’s hands are covering his wide smile.

“He was such a positive person all of the time and always wanted to have a great time and really uplifted everyone around him,” Kimball said.

O’Keefe’s mom Kelly said she was “blown away” by the beautiful artwork which was recreated from one of her favorite photos of her son.

“Coming to see it and actually seeing it in person, they brought him to life in a way that keeps his memory living on,” she said. “Even after all these weeks since his passing, it’s incredible that a group of students decided to come together.”

The chalk drawing of O’Keefe will be on display at the Mission throughout the festival.

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