PRINCETON — Colorful images lined the sidewalks of Mercer Street, Saturday, as families came out to show support to local organizations while having fun in a safe way.
The Chalk the Walk event, organized by The Bronze Look owner Randolph Evans, aimed to be “the biggest art project in West Virginia,” according to Jimm Norman, store manager at Just One Look on Mercer Street.
“Mostly we’re trying to get the community to come out and enjoy a day out in the fresh air; everybody has been cooped up for so long,” Norman said of the event.
Community members did show up, lining the sidewalks along Mercer Street at intervals to celebrate Mercer’s history through vibrant art pieces.
Scott Catron was out with his family, enjoying the warm weather and coloring with his daughter, Hannah.
“It sounded fun to do. A fun way to get families outside,” Catron stated.
Other families felt the fun of the event as well; Jackie Phillips watched as Fred and Mercedes Phillips colored away at the sidewalk.
“I like the event; it gives the kids something to do,” Phillips stated. Brooklyn Phillips and Scarlett Music, also there at the event with Phillips, stated that they were “having fun” coloring rainbow patterns with the chalk.
Micah Strader, out at the event with his child and his neighbor’s children, stated they had all “walked down and picked a spot” to begin coloring.
“The kids love sidewalk chalk at the house, so it’s fun to have a big sidewalk,” he added.
Local businesses were participating in the fun as well; Lacey Vilandry, an artist at the RiffRaff Arts Collective on Mercer Street, had covered the sidewalk in front of the business with swirling patterns.
“It’s a really great way to get people out,” Vilandry said of the event. “It’s good that people are out and about appreciating the town.
“I love any excuse to draw on the sidewalk - any chance to make my town more colorful,” Vilandry added.
Lori McKinney, director of the RiffRaff Arts Collective, expressed appreciation for the event’s organizers. “I’m always happy to see people initiating events, it’s nice to see people out on the street and it’s great for businesses,” McKinney stated.
Event organizer Randolph Evans stated that he hoped the event would become “an annual event to benefit nonprofits” in the area.
“We asked the public to come out of their houses, enjoy the weather,” Evans added, stating that the intent was to have a good time while supporting nonprofits that may be struggling during the pandemic. “I bought a bunch of chalk, about 30 boxes, and people donated some as well.”
Three charities were being supported by donations made at the event, including Tender Mercies Food Pantry, The Mercer County Historical Society and ChildLaw Services, Inc. of Mercer County.
Lois Miller, president at the Mercer County Historical Society, had brought her grandchildren out to participate and learn a bit about Mercer’s history.
The event’s theme was “The History of Mercer County,” according to organizers, and participants were encouraged to create art pertaining to Mercer’s history.
Miller stated that they had “been excited for a month” about the event.
“We told the kids they could come and draw, went by churches and drew Bibles, and I brought a history book to help the kids learn,” Miller added.
Erin Miller and her brother, Gabriel, were busy drawing colorful mermaids and cartoon characters, but the group had already completed images earlier in the day of the Statue of Liberty, American flags, as well as images for the police department and fire department in Princeton.
Alara and Charlie Miller were out with the group as well; both children agreed they were having fun drawing pictures.
Erin Miller added that she “felt excited” and “loved coloring,” so the event was fun for her.
Cathy Wallace, executive director of ChildLaw Services, Inc., was attending the event as well at a table set up for the organization.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community,” Wallace stated about the event. “It’s an event that offers social distancing and a chance to be with the community. We’re fortunate to have been included.”
Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett also attended the event; he was out finishing a new mural entitled “Unity,” a piece that encompasses change, growth, division and the mixing of cultures to bring about unity, during the event.
“It’s a good event, the kind of thing we needed,” Puckett stated.
“The best part about art is that it provides spirit, it’s soothing and calm. Murals are long lasting, but sidewalk chalk is transparent - it changes so fast,” he added.
Evans hopes to make the event an annual affair, giving the community more opportunities to create chalk art together.
“We did a lot of publicity and I appreciate the coverage,” Evans stated. “I think we can make this an annual event.”
Contact Kilie Pauley at firstname.lastname@example.org