‘Chalk’ it up as a great time: Artists, young and old, try to break world record

By Dan Stokes - [email protected]
Dozens of people are shown working on their drawings Saturday at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre. Organizers were expecting about 2,000 people in all to participate during the day-long event that attempted to establish a world record. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Cheryl Hillard, of Kingston, left, assists grandson Bruce Knowles, 5, of Shavertown, with his drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Three thousand boxes of chalk were available for use at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s world-record attempt. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Times Leader staff made a chalk drawing of the TL logo early Saturday on the River Common in Wilkes-Barre. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Kinley Lyons, 3, of Harveys Lake, and grandmother Kelly Lyons, of Sweet Valley, work on a drawing together at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Jamie Langan, of Plymouth, right, and her mother-in-law, Valerie Andres, of Kingston, look for a relative as they work on their chalk drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Kent and Valerie Sellers, of Mountain Top, and their daughter Amelia, 4, and son Corban, 11, work on their chalk drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Four-year-old Camryn Ferkel, of Dallas, works on her drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. It’s unclear yet if Wilkes-Barre set a Guinness World Record for longest chalk drawing on pavement. - - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — In a day and age where people are sharply divided, chalk was able to bring a community together for a common goal Saturday.

Area residents both young and old attempted to break Greeley, Colorado’s Guinness World Record of 3.55 miles for longest chalk drawing at the ninth annual ChalkFest, held along the River Common.

“We love to color,” said Griffin, 8, and Clark, 5, brothers from Forty Fort. “We also want to break the world record.”

“Every year, I say, ‘How can we grow this event?” said John Maday, executive director of the Riverfront Parks Committee. “Although it’s our ninth year, I saw what the Guinness World Record was and figured why not try to beat it.”

Technically, the world record is for “Longest Chalk Pavement Art.”

Whether or not Wilkes-Barre broke the record on Saturday will not be officially determined until at least Sunday.

If the effort did come up short, Mother Nature could get some of the blame.

“We had some really dramatic weather this past year,” said Maday. “The river flooded high enough that we had to change the entire course twice.”

Due to all the rain of the last few months, the course was still riddled with mud Saturday that had to be hosed off so children and their families could enjoy the day and draw.

“The weather may have impacted us breaking the world record,” added Maday. “But that’s not the important thing. We got families to come together for a common cause. I know these kids are never going to forget this day.”

While ChalkFest’s origin started when Maday went out for a run, the event has grown steadily for nine years, with over 2,000 expected to participate on Saturday.

“I saw chalk drawings when running and didn’t know that people still did that. So I told everyone that we should buy a bunch of chalk and have families come out and enjoy,” Maday recalled.

Maday said he filled out the application last October to try and accomplish the feat and received notification from Guinness in January that it was accepted.

Since January, the Riverfront Parks Committee and the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association have worked in conjunction to organize the record attempt.

They supplied 3,000 boxes of chalk, each with 12 pieces.

‘A great time’

Some chalk art was very complex and intricate while other drawings were simple. But the massive collection of art and color was impressive enough to pique everyone’s interest.

Among the masses was state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre.

“This is a wonderful community event,” Pashinski said. “There is some truly outstanding artwork and beautiful renditions of original pieces. The children are having a great time and so am I.”

Lisa Zaverack, 29, of Wilkes-Barre, participated in ChalkFest for the first time.

“When I saw it advertised, I figured why not go,” she said. “I’m an art teacher, so I knew I would have some fun.”

Zaverack, with the help of some friends, attempted to draw every country’s flag with chalk.

“We have about 180 countries on our list, so we really need to get moving if we want to complete them all,” Zaverack explained. “People have been making pit stops and certain flags we’ve drawn because of their heritage.”

Zaverack said she and her friends decided to draw chalk flags because it serves as a nice message of unity. And, truth be told, the flags proved easy to draw.

Chalk artists and others who attended were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items that would be donated to the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, which serves four counties in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Dozens of people are shown working on their drawings Saturday at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre. Organizers were expecting about 2,000 people in all to participate during the day-long event that attempted to establish a world record.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL093018ChalkFest_1-1-.jpgDozens of people are shown working on their drawings Saturday at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre. Organizers were expecting about 2,000 people in all to participate during the day-long event that attempted to establish a world record. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Cheryl Hillard, of Kingston, left, assists grandson Bruce Knowles, 5, of Shavertown, with his drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL093018ChalkFest_3-1-.jpgCheryl Hillard, of Kingston, left, assists grandson Bruce Knowles, 5, of Shavertown, with his drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Three thousand boxes of chalk were available for use at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s world-record attempt.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL093018ChalkFest_4-1-.jpgThree thousand boxes of chalk were available for use at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s world-record attempt. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Times Leader staff made a chalk drawing of the TL logo early Saturday on the River Common in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL093018ChalkFest_12-1-.jpgTimes Leader staff made a chalk drawing of the TL logo early Saturday on the River Common in Wilkes-Barre. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Kinley Lyons, 3, of Harveys Lake, and grandmother Kelly Lyons, of Sweet Valley, work on a drawing together at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL093018ChalkFest_8-1-.jpgKinley Lyons, 3, of Harveys Lake, and grandmother Kelly Lyons, of Sweet Valley, work on a drawing together at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Jamie Langan, of Plymouth, right, and her mother-in-law, Valerie Andres, of Kingston, look for a relative as they work on their chalk drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL093018ChalkFest_9-1-.jpgJamie Langan, of Plymouth, right, and her mother-in-law, Valerie Andres, of Kingston, look for a relative as they work on their chalk drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Kent and Valerie Sellers, of Mountain Top, and their daughter Amelia, 4, and son Corban, 11, work on their chalk drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL093018ChalkFest_5-1-.jpgKent and Valerie Sellers, of Mountain Top, and their daughter Amelia, 4, and son Corban, 11, work on their chalk drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Four-year-old Camryn Ferkel, of Dallas, works on her drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. It’s unclear yet if Wilkes-Barre set a Guinness World Record for longest chalk drawing on pavement.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL093018ChalkFest_6-1-.jpgFour-year-old Camryn Ferkel, of Dallas, works on her drawing at ChalkFest along the River Common in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. It’s unclear yet if Wilkes-Barre set a Guinness World Record for longest chalk drawing on pavement. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

By Dan Stokes

[email protected]

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes