Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Brandon Wolferman soars over I&M Plaza as he and other bikers from the Fort Wayne Indoor Skate Park show off their BMX skills in the Open Streets Fort Wayne on Sunday.
Maria Nava demonstrates her hoop dancing skills on Wayne Street during Sunday’s event.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Nigel McFarren, 11, gets a face full of foam from the bubble machine on Calhoun Street on Sunday.
Monday, July 10, 2017 1:00 am
Streets open for play
First-time event a success
ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette
Jerry Nix took on the unusual role Sunday of helping passers-by – children and adults alike – sit in chairs normally in his West Wayne Street workplace.
Granted, the chairs weren't the standard office chair with armrests and a level seat. They were bright red spin chairs, which look more like art than furniture and allow users to rock side-to-side and spin around. Those passing MKM architecture + design during Open Streets Fort Wayne seemed eager to give the unconventional seats a try.
“The kids love them,” Nix said, adding many “daring adults” tried them, too.
MKM architecture + design hosted one of the dozen-plus activity hubs set up along Calhoun, Berry and Wayne streets for the new event, which connected several neighborhoods with the central business district and encouraged people to play in the streets.
Play, they did. People danced in Calhoun Street, shot baskets on Ewing Street near Berry Street, played in bubbles near the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and played mini-golf at six holes scattered throughout the event area.
“It's nice to see all the local businesses get involved,” Amanda Ramon of Fort Wayne said as her 7-year-old son, Alex McCullough, putted on a mini green.
Open Streets Fort Wayne was led by the city's Division of Public Works and fit with its efforts to encourage residents to walk and bicycle Fort Wayne by enhancing the active transportation network.
The event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., gave the Brown family activities to do before the midafternoon TinCaps game. Michelle Brown watched as her children, Lauren, 9, and Aaron, 7, played with hula hoops on Wayne Street.
“This is really cool,” the Fort Wayne woman said.
Although her family comes downtown to visit such places as Parkview Field and the Allen County Public Library, Sunday's event gave her an opportunity to see what else downtown offers, she said.
Nearby, MKM architecture + design not only attracted people with the spinning chairs but also with an urban disc golf course between buildings. The course demonstrates ways alleys can be used and that a large green space isn't needed for disc golf, Nix said.
On Berry Street, Bobby Meriwether of Fort Wayne helped nephew John Weimer, 7, get in the perfect spot for a photograph near the chalk graffiti they created that rooted on the Chicago Cubs.
“He did the coloring,” Meriwether said of the red, white and blue “Go Cubs” message.
There was no need to wish the pair a fun afternoon.
“Think we've already achieved that one,” Meriwether said.