chalk drawing

Chalk creations, such as the one shown above made by 5-year-old Olivia Harman of Medford over the weekend, are becoming a go-to family activity during the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. The Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, as well as Owatonna Parks and Recreation, are inviting the public to get creative this weekend and share photos of their designs for the chance to win a gift certificate redeemable at any member business. (Submitted by Eryn Harman)

OWATONNA — As public health officials strongly discourage public gatherings or unnecessary trips outside the home, one activity households across Minnesota have taken to is chalk art — with positive messages being shared via public walkways in cities throughout the state.

This weekend, organizers from the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and Owatonna Parks and Recreation are formalizing the pastime with a local “Chalk Your Walk” event.

Individuals and households can make chalk drawings on their sidewalks and driveways, as well as on trails in city parks — all while practicing six-foot social distancing to avoid transmitting the coronavirus, which is most often passed along through close, person-to-person contact.

After finishing their creation, participants can then take a photo and share it via social media using #visitowatonna in the caption. Everyone who enters will have the chance to win $50 in Chamber Bucks — redeemable at any member business — if their creation is selected as the winner.

Jessica Abrahams, administrative technician with the parks department, has taken the lead on organizing the event, along with Director of Conventions & Tourism Karen Pehrson.

“Karen reached out to me wanting to give something for the community to do, and we thought something outdoors would be best — something that would get them outside,” said Abrahams. “I’d seen another community offering something similar to this. She thought it sounded like a good idea and we went form there.”

Abrahams added that she hoped encouraging residents to draw along their own sidewalks and on park trails would also naturally encourage social distancing, as opposed to having people congregate in one specific area to draw.

“While our parks and trails are still open, we do encourage people to use them during this time using social distancing guidelines,” she noted, adding that getting outdoors can be beneficial for both physical and mental health.

The designated drawing period for Chalk Your Walk is this Friday and Saturday, but Abrahams noted that many people have already started on their creations. Pehrson added that the theme for the event is “stronger together” and that, in choosing the winner, judges will be looking for inspirational words and pictures.

On Sunday, she encouraged residents to get out and go for a drive to see the chalk art around town. “It’ll be similar to when you drive around and look at Christmas lights. It would also get people out while still practicing social distancing,” she noted.

For those wanting to submit their work this Friday and Saturday, Pehrson said to post pictures to Facebook or Instagram and be sure to include “#visitowatonna” in the caption, or to send photos in to kpehrson@owatonna.org.

For more information, search for “Chalk Your Walk Owatonna” on Facebook.

Reporter Bridget Kranz can be reached at 507-444-2376. Follow her on Twitter @OPPBridget. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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