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Giant hopscotch course coming to Bellingham’s State Street

Uuntzbrella wins Kapow! Design Competition to transform State Street in Bellingham

The project team behind Uuntzbrella presents their idea at Kapow! Design Competition on Thursday, April 21, at Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham, Wash. The Uuntzbrella, a public coin-operated dance floor, won the people's choice award in the compe
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The project team behind Uuntzbrella presents their idea at Kapow! Design Competition on Thursday, April 21, at Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham, Wash. The Uuntzbrella, a public coin-operated dance floor, won the people's choice award in the compe

Hopscotch and beer lovers rejoice: A record-setting hopscotch course along State Street — with stops at some favorite local breweries — seems imminent.

Bellinghamhopscotch 3.8, presented by Jessica Mucha and Ben Belcher, took the mayor’s award at the second Kapow! Design Competition at Mount Baker Theatre on Thursday night, April 21. The event was a search for projects to enliven a section of State Street.

“It is fun, it is socially conscientious and it promotes our businesses,” Mayor Kelli Linville said of the idea during her award presentation. The city of Bellingham, she added, would fund the project, which is expected to cost about $15,000, according to the application.

The Kapow! competition asked community creators to craft their own ideas for ways to spruce up North State Street.

Intended to be a one-day fundraiser, a 3.8-mile hopscotch course would start on State Street and pass through downtown. Volunteers would mark the course with duct tape about a week in advance, and the markers could remain on the ground for months after the event for a family-friendly activity or for tourists to use as a guide to local breweries.

Sponsors for hopping participants would donate money per square or mile, and those funds would then go to a charity.

Outdoor dance floor

Uuntzbrella, a dance floor beneath an oversized umbrella, complete with a coin-operated stereo system that allows users to plug in their own tunes, won the people’s choice award. Izzy Czerveniak and Devon Moore were the project’s managers.

The idea’s name, which comes from the onomatopoeia uuntz, describes the sound made by a bass drum and cymbal, Czerveniak said during her presentation.

The giant umbrella would make the dance floor usable no matter the weather. In addition to providing five minutes of music from a user’s own device, the coin-operated system would incorporate lights. The floor would come with wooden seating on the edge, with storage space beneath the seats.

State Street is a hidden gem, and yet it’s still not living up to its full potential.

Rose Lathrop, Kapow! Design Competition founder

Its cost estimate, according to the application, is about $21,000.

Project organizers envisioned the dance floor in the parking lot aside the Herald Building. The floor would be mobile, and organizers are open to other location suggestions, the application says.

The proposed parking lot is owned and managed by Daylight Properties, which was a sponsor for the Kapow! competition.

Daylight Chief Executive Officer Kane Hall said Friday that he supports the idea but wasn’t approached by the team about the location, and would rather see it go in Depot Market Square, just across the alley from the proposed spot.

“It’s certainly something we could look at doing, but it’s not something I’ve even considered until right now,” he said. “But the people have spoken, and they should investigate where it should go.”

Model Solar System

The event’s superhero award went to State of the Solar System, presented by Deborah Todd and students from Whatcom Middle School. The idea consists of a distance-scaled model Solar System along State Street.

The model would begin at the roundabout that intersects State Street with Wharf and North Forest streets and Boulevard. Heading northeast from there, the first six planets would be situated along the east side of the street.

A sign at the intersection with York Street will direct participants to the remaining three planets on the west side of State Street, bringing participants back to where they started.

Threshold Documents, with an office located near the roundabout, will provide the written instructions to guide participants to each model planet, according to the project application. The models would be accompanied by an informational plaque.

Local artists would create the plaques and Whatcom Middle School students would help write the information. The planets and plaques would be securely fastened to existing posts or buildings with the owners’ permission.

The project is estimated to cost around $4,000.

Other pitches

The Kapow! competition, sponsored by Sustainable Connections, the city of Bellingham and the Whatcom County Association of Realtors, asked community creators to craft their own ideas for ways to spruce up North State Street. Out of the 25 original applicants, eight finalists were invited to the Thursday event to present their ideas.

Winning ideas will get some funding to help make them come to life. Last year’s competition resulted in several projects, including the popular Commercial Street Night Market.

“State Street is a hidden gem, and yet it’s still not living up to its full potential,” said Rose Lathrop, the green-building and smart growth program manager for Sustainable Connections and a Kapow! founder.

Other projects presented:

Alley District Bike Tower: An art installation at the corner of the alley adjacent to the Herald Building and Chestnut Street that doubles as a vertical bike rack, with solar powered lights.

Artquake: A series of murals on the walls outside Leaf & Ladle and Rock and Rye Oyster House and an educational campaign about disaster preparedness.

El-Luminate — Dreams & Fairy Dust: Outdoor LED fixtures that emit strobe lights in different colors to brighten darker areas of State Street.

Kapower of Play: As many as four secure, weather-resistant stations for passersby to play games, such as ping pong, foosball or chess, positioned at various places along State Street.

State Street Spigot: A sculpture at the northeast corner of State and Magnolia streets that also serves as a drinking fountain and bottle-refilling station.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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