By Katherine Pugh , Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — The Riverfront Parks Committee hosted its annual ChalkFest on Saturday, an afternoon of free family-oriented activities and entertainment at the River Common.
Guests were given a bucket of sidewalk chalk and cordoned off their own sections of the park to create colorful chalk illustrations. There were also a variety of educational exhibits with a focus on environmental protection and awareness.
“One of the priorities of the Riverfront Parks Committee is educating people on the environment,” said John Maday, executive director of the committee. “This is the only planet we have, and it’s easy to ignore that. At the Riverfront Parks Committee, we educate year-round because the environment exists year-round. We even have events as early as February. If one family leaves here with more knowledge about the environment, I’m happy.”
ChalkFest has no contest element. That’s to encourage kids to focus on having fun rather than creating something for judges.
“I’m not even sure how we would judge children. It wouldn’t be right to say one child’s work is better than another’s,” Maday explained.
ChalkFest was inspired by Maday’s hobby of running.
“I would be running at six in the morning and one day, I really noticed all of the chalk drawings on the sidewalk. I thought that would be something fun to do at the Riverfront,” he recalled. “You look around, you don’t see a single kid on a device here. They’re all having fun and enjoying what the park has to offer.”
“It’s a fun day out, it’s relaxing, and it’s free. The kids really enjoy it,” said Nicolette DeMarco-Burton, of Kingston, who attended ChalkFest with her family — David Burton, 10, Anthony Burton, 8, and Samantha Burton, 6. “It gives us family time together and I think it brings the community together. It’s a fun event for the surrounding communities.”
Anne Rodello staffed the table for the F.M. Kirby Center to showcase some other pending family-oriented events.
“It’s such a nice opportunity that Riverfront Parks provides to the community and to families. It’s just a nice laid-back event where people can relax and color,” Rodello said.
“More organizations that do events like this, more volunteers that help, are key to engaging the community. The more we offer, the more we see results,” she continued.
Stay up to date on all the happenings at the River Commons by following @RiverCommon on Facebook. If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more about the committee, email Maday at John@riverfrontparks.org.