Knight Cities winner @Play plans busy July with Joy Park ‘Bubble Fest’ and swim parties

July 5, 2018 GMT

Knight Cities winner @Play plans busy July with Joy Park ‘Bubble Fest’ and swim parties

AKRON, Ohio - @Play is making its way through all 24 Akron neighborhoods, leaving colorful walls, walkways and murals, chimes and, soon, bubbles in its wake.

@Play is a 2017 $241,000 Knight Cities Challenge grant-winning idea by Mac Love of Art x Love LLC. Love, @Play’s “chief catalyst and project leader,” aims to connect community members of all ages through games and fun activities that focus on the specific identity and character of each neighborhood.

To determine what’s wanted in each neighborhood, the @Play team has completed mapping every street in every neighborhood in Akron, talking with residents along the way. The group is working with city leaders to implement more initiatives, Love said.

For East Akron, a Bubble Fest at Joy Park is set for 4-7 p.m. Friday, July 6, when the four-time Guinness World Record holder for largest indoor and outdoor soap bubble, Dr. Awesome, will perform bubble magic and offer interactive experiences for residents.

Participants will receive bubble liquid and a print by local artist Dierre “Deuce Dime” Fleetwood. The first 200 attendees will receive free food and drink from Stray Dog Food Cart.

To come up with Bubble Fest, the team conducted one-on-one interviews with East Akron neighbors and learned more investment has been put into certain parts of the neighborhood than others and the @Play team needed to engage all groups.

@Play began by working with kids from the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corp.’s summer HYPE program on 12 murals that will be displayed in key neighborhood corridors and park areas. A large 8- by 12-foot mural will be installed in East Akron this summer.

A mural also was created in the playground behind Arlington Plaza. Working in collaboration with kids from the Eller Boys & Girls Club, @PLAY created a rainbow staircase and chalkboard walls to encourage creative and personal expression.

Both projects were stepping stones to Bubble Fest, which is designed to entertain and bring the entire neighborhood together, Love said.

Prior to Bubble Fest, a private collaborative mural for kids will be created at the field at Joy Park. That’s because during the research, the @Play team learned Joy park got its name from the Joy family farm, which was once on the property. When the clay industry took off, the farm became a mine and later a landfill. It’s now a long and rolling field.

“There are several strong themes that have come up over the course of our neighborhood research and interviews through @PLAY,” Love said in an email. “The first is that Akronites want long-term improvements, not Band-Aids. The second is that perceptions outside of each neighborhood rarely match the realities inside them. The third is that there is treasure everywhere. Akron’s history has blessed us with the remnants and foundations for astonishing improvements to people’s quality of life. I, for one, am convinced that with smart strategic investments, we can unite our neighborhoods and create worthwhile experiences that help everyone get a seat at the table.”

Following Bubble Fest, @PLAY has planned the following events:

Monday, July 9 – Wallhaven – Plein Air in the Park - a painting day with live music in Hardesty Park.Friday, July 13 – Goodyear Heights – Reservoir Park Pool Party - celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the pool’s construction with live music and transformational public art.Saturday, July 14 – West Akron – Perkins Woods Pool Party - celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the pool’s construction with live music and transformational public art.Saturday, July 21 – Rebranding the City: A Humanizing Tour of Akron - an original theater production commissioned on behalf of @PLAY and composed of quotes from Akron residents on a range of subjects. The performance will open at Art x Love’s studio in downtown Akron and tour each neighborhood through summer, fall and winter.Saturday-Sunday, July 28-29 – Wallhaven – Summer Arts Expo - creating public art sourced from residents and finished by local artists for public display across the neighborhood.

Since last winter, the @Play team also has hung windchimes and painted benches in North Hill, hosted a coloring-book contest to decorate buildings and highway underpasses in Kenmore and painted large murals in Middlebury.

For details about @Play and scheduled Akron events, go to the @Play website.

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