1. Clearwater

Clearwater's newest art project brightens rainy day sidewalks

CLEARWATER — The city wants to help people love their streets.

The first step in that process: drawing on the sidewalk with a special paint only visible when wet.

The city's Planning and Development Department recently launched the Neighborhood Sidewalk Rain Art Program. Residents can check out stencils and the paint, which stays on the sidewalk for about two to four months, for free. Until wet, the paint won't appear.

Juliahna Green, a Neighborhood Coordinator, said it's the first step in the city's placemaking program. Placemaking encourages people to connect with the places they live in and others in their community. Other future ideas, which should be rolled out this month and next, include having people paint signal boxes and storm drains.

The full program will launch in December or January, Green said. The department consolidates all the information in one place and uses a library checkout system for materials to make it easy for residents to participate, she said.

"You don't have to be this extraordinary renowned artist, anyone can do this," Green said. "It's kind of made by our residents for our residents."

On the first day, 25 groups expressed their interest. Wendy Hutkin was the first.

Hutkin and her 4-year-old twins, Albert and Sienna, laid out stencils and held them down using painters tape and the twins' rock collection. Hutkin also threw her flip flops down and sprayed around them to create footsteps.

The next day after the paint had set, they came back with buckets of water to see what they made. When wet, the pictures showed a kid jumping and the words "be bright, be beautiful, be Clearwater."

Albert and Sienna splashed in the water, ooh-ing and aah-ing. When it rained a week later, they went back out and smiled seeing the pictures again.

Hutkin said it's nice of the city to make the materials available and said she plans to buy some of the paint herself.

"Especially now with it raining often, it's kind of a cool thing to keep people inspired," she said.

Contact Romy Ellenbogen at Follow @Romyellenbogen.