Here are some photos from Wednesday night's PLAY installation (August 17) in Prince's Island Park. Thanks to Alex MacDonald for taking all the photos in this blog post!
Claudia and I got to the Park early (around 9:00) to start blowing up balloons so that we'd have a few balloons ready to go at 10:00, when everybody was invited to come play. Thanks for Carolyn and Graeme for coming early to help us out with your lung power! We even had a police officer stop by and blow up an LED balloon. With the cops on our side, we knew the night was a go!
After a while, we had a pretty good start to the balloon collection. The weather, however, was not too cooperative, so after some pretty big gusts of wind that threatened to send our balloons everywhere, we had to tie them down. Phil and Brett (our first actual visitors who just happened to stumble upon us in the park) were instrumental in corralling the stray balloons.
Luckily, the weather finally cooperated just as people began to arrive. We cut the balloons loose, and they were finally at the mercy of the visitors. We left it up to people to animate the landscape by playing with these glowing orbs of light.
Interestingly, there was a moment of critical mass that happened during the night, when enough people were present and enough balloons were blown up, that everyone standing around was compelled to pick up a balloon and start playing. It was at this moment that the goal of the night was fulfilled: to provide adult Calgarians a chance to reconnect with their inner children, to ignore notions of what it means to be "grown up," to shed inhibitions, and to have fun with friends and strangers alike in a park that sees little inhabitation after dark.
It turns out that burying your friends in a pile of a couple hundred balloons and them letting them explode out is a fun thing to do! This was definitely a recurring activity throughout the evening that had everyone wanting their own turn being buried:
It turns out that a bunch of glowing objects in a dark area are also conducive to some cool photograhic effects:
As more and more people were playing with the balloons, we noticed a pretty steady rate of attrition due to balloons bursting. Every so often, a balloon would pop, and everyone around would scream in laughter. This surprise never got old. As this happened, we replaced popped balloons with new ones to replenish stock. We had about 300 blue and green LEDs, which were all in balloons by the end of the night.
Yours truly, towards the end of the night with a bunch of visitors playing in the background:
By the end of the night, we estimated that 50 people came out to play with us, including many people that happened upon us on their nightly wanderings. We even had a group of construction people who were working on the River Cafe come by during one of their breaks to check it out. At the end of the night, we had a balloon popping party (who doesn't like to burst balloons?) and left the park as we found it earlier, without a trace of our adventures.