By Drew Bergman
Wednesday morning City of Columbia summer interns Ty Cheatham and Nikki Bair were out and around the square taping off sections of sidewalk all the way across the promenade.
“We’re putting the squares in front of each business and people can ‘paint’ it or businesses can ‘paint’ it what they like,” Bair said. “We’re placing them all the way around.”
The ‘painting’ the pair are preparing the sidewalks for is part of an initiative from the city to promote civic engagement as Columbia continues to work its way out of the initial coronavirus lockdown. Columbia’s “Paint the Town,” event is set for July 8 and 9 and invites people down to brighten the city with their unique chalk art.
“We’re trying to do two or three things in the month of July that families can participate in,” Mayor Pamela Hoots said. “We realize with COVID-19 and the restrictions everyone’s been limited, so we’re trying to do what we can for our community.”
This first event is free to the public and free to participate in, but those who wish to do so will need to call ahead into the city to reserve a square.
“Call (270) 384-2501 and Ann Marie, Tiffany, Jada, or Rhonda will help you,” Mayor Hoots said. “You call and tell them the location you want, and they will mark a square there off for you. All the locations are numbered, and you will get a number with the location for you to do your drawing.”
“It’s a good way to involve the community and bring out the creative side of Columbia,” Cheatham said. “It’s something different with everybody being home the past few months.”
Apart from unleashing the community’s creativity, it will be an open opportunity for people to reconnect with each other, as well as organizations they might have lost touch with. “We’re asking families, churches, businesses, organizations to come down and join in,” said Mayor Hoots.
Each of the blocks is eight feet apart from the next allowing plenty of space for social distancing as people to bring their flair to the sidewalks of Columbia.
The designs will be open and available for public viewing as long as the weather allows, but before 2020 washes away the chalk art a judge will come through to determine a prize winner from among the participants and that person will receive a gift basket sponsored by Mayor Hoots.
Again, squares can be reserved by calling (270) 384-2501.