I took my kids to the annual chalk art festival this past weekend. It is really fun. Over 100 artists do some magnificent work on the streets around Larimer Square. There are food booths, bands and a great kids area for physical activities and doing chalk-art of their own.
My kids love doing chalk on the sidewalks at home. We live on a block where all the houses face in to a central courtyard that is comprised of grass, landscaping boxes, a lot of sidewalks and a central area of concrete. It’s a great place for biking, scooters and a wonderful canvass for chalk.
On our first weekend in the new house, the boys and I drew a giant human board game in the courtyard. Each sidewalk square became it’s own space on our human board game. The outer courtyard sidewalk is a complete square making for a perfect Monopoly style game board. We created all kinds of fun spaces such as:
- Move forward or back X spaces
- Stand on the big rock and yell “My brain is made of macaroni and cheese” as loud as you can three times
- Stand in a cloud of bugs for one minute without moving (this was Will’s diabolical square as there happened to be a swarm of bugs by some bushes that evening)
- Spin around in a circle ten times
- Change places with any other player
- Ding dong ditch this house (an arrow pointed to a neighbor’s house – I had to strike that one from the game, but I appreciated the creativity)
- Eat a leaf (again, I had to nix this one)
- Run around the courtyard square while slapping your butt and yelling “My pants are on fire!”
- You must hop for the rest of the game
- Give daddy a hug and tell him he rocks the world and also that he is very handsome (one guess as to who came up with this gem)
- Crab walk to the tree and back
There were about fifty game squares along with some free spaces. We used a deck of cards for moving. Some other kids came over and played with us and it was really fun.
The boys also do random chalk drawings just like all kids do. Ironically, on the chalk-art festival weekend, it came to our attention that chalk is not allowed on the common area sidewalks. The HOA sent an email out to all the homeowners (there are four blocks like ours comprised of the HOA). About 80% of all the homes in the HOA have young children in the household. And about 80% of those 80% routinely do chalk on the sidewalks. This reprimand and warning caused an uproar amongst everybody.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m new or because I’m clueless and never signed up to receive HOA info (probably the latter), but I haven’t heard or seen any of the hoopla surrounding this issue from the HOA. But the neighbors have told me all about it. One mom even called the television stations and got some interest from them to come out. She was aghast that the HOA would even spend time on this and demanded to know what assholes want to tell her children they can’t play hopscotch.
I speculated as to whether or not our human board game caused the HOA to send out the notice. I was surprised that most people were aware of the human board game even though it only lasted about a day until the rains and sprinklers took it out. They all said they loved it and their kids wanted to play. But apparently there is at least one household that went to the trouble to find the bylaw in the HOA rules and made a formal complaint. Nobody seems to know who it is.
Even the kids are in on the debate. They don’t understand it. I told them this is one rule they can mostly ignore. I told them not to chalk the sidewalks right in front of other houses, but if they want to do the middle of the courtyard and in front of our house to have at it.
They are amazed I am authorizing them to break a rule. Will has taken it upon himself to protest by chalking the middle of the courtyard with messages such as, “Kids love art,” and “Why can’t we have fun?” I am not sure I’m doing the right thing to let them violate the rule and even be part of the protest. There are other parents fighting the HOA and I guess we will honor whatever comes out of that battle. But if the HOA sticks to their guns, I want them to tell all the kids in the neighborhood why they can’t have fun and do art.
As Denver celebrates art with a spectacular chalk festival downtown, a battle is brewing in my little neighborhood over the dark-side of chalk-art. Which is what again?