Cornelius residents recently participated in the city's first-ever chalk art event as a way to safely organize and show pride in their city during difficult times, as the coronavirus pandemic persists.
Participants were asked to draw chalk art of whatever they think symbolizes Cornelius to them on the sidewalk panels outside their homes as a way to decorate the city streets while maintaining a distance from others.
The city provided free drawing kits, including colored chalk, two battery-powered votive candles and bags to highlight the homeowners' participation, a real estate-sized sign and wire stake to promote the contest. People could submit their drawing to the city on social media using the hashtag #colorcornelius.
During a judging event on Sept. 19, Cornelius Mayor Jaf Dalin selected two drawings, whose artists received $25 gift cards to The Human Bean coffee shop in Cornelius. One drawing was of mountains by Cornelius resident Christopher Crawford and another was of a koi fish pond by resident Catherine Colgan.
The Cornelius Youth Advisory Council organized the event to encourage positive messaging as people are inundated with stressful news about the pandemic, social unrest and the fallout from massive wildfires across Oregon, said Glencoe High School senior and Youth Advisory Council member Crystal Araujo.
"Right now, just seeing everything on the news, it's always so stressful because we're only seeing the bad stuff, so I just thought doing this chalk event was a way to bring some positivity into our city," Araujo said. "Something to distract ourselves."
Araujo said she was worried the event wouldn't be able to happen after wildfire smoke forced organizers to postpone the event one week and as weather forecasts showed rain was coming.
She said she and other Youth Advisory Council members drew on Forest Grove's chalk art event, which has been going on for years, for the idea.
As she recently started her senior year doing distance learning, Araujo said getting together with other council members to draw chalk art in the parking lot of the Cornelius Public Library was a highlight of her week.
The piece she drew reads: "Smiling is contagious."
"I know we're all typically wearing masks now, but I just thought it would be good to remind everyone that smiling is important," Araujo said.
She and other Youth Advisory Council members are already planning to continue the event in future years and coming up with ways to allow more people to participate.
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