WILKES-BARRE — The River Common burst into colors on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of people converged on the Millennium Circle portal to express their creative side during the fourth annual ChalkFest.
ChalkFest is one of many free events the River Front Parks Committee holds throughout the year, providing family fun while teaching a bit about the environment, John Maday, executive director for the committee, said. It was held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Walking through the portal to the river side, families were greeted by a big table with free boxes of colorful chalk. Lynnelle Welch, a volunteer with the River Front Parks Committee, said she handed out about 200 boxes by 1 p.m.
“We have had well over 600 people come in so far,” she said.
Maday said this year’s ChalkFest grew with sponsorship from Med Express, Building Blocks Learning Center, Jack Williams, American Water and the Luzerne Foundation to name a few.
The goal is to create environmental awareness, education and stewardship, he said.
“Walking around, I’ve been hearing things such as ‘Wow this is fun’ and ‘There are more things here this year,’ ” Maday said.
Actives for children included finding out how many drops of water a penny could hold (some were getting up to 28 drops) and a live mammal show featuring animals such as possums. Learning about water conservation and how important trees are to the water cycle was another popular attraction.
Building Blocks Learning Center was allowing children to make their own terrarium out of empty plastic water bottles.
“It is a hands-on activity made with everyday items,” said Zubeen Saeed, president of the center. “It uses math and science concepts.”
While finishing up sidewalk squares, Jacqueline Schineller said she has come every year with her daughter, Giuliana, 7, of Dallas.
“We are originally from New Jersey,” Schineller said. “They do not have things like this there.”
Looking out at people fishing along the Susquehanna River, drawing and walking about, Maday said this is what it is all about — giving people an opportunity to socialize and learn about the environment.
“This adds to the quality of life,” he said.
Maday said years ago he pitched the idea of ChalkFest while running through Wilkes-Barre and admiring chalk drawings from local children. He said the committee developed it into an annual event.
“This is all done by volunteers,” he said.
The river really symbolizes our communities, Maday said. All the tributaries that run into the river symbolize all the communities.
“We are all drawn to the river,” he said.
Mike Patla, of Wilkes-Barre, was putting the finishing touches on his drawing of cartoon character Homer Simpson.
“I love this idea,” he said. “It is a great think that they do this.”