Giant marble run in place for street party and bike parade

A street party to celebrate the new Drews Avenue streetscape will be part of this year’s Lights on Bikes parade.

June 25, 6pm, Drew’s Ave, CBD, Whanganui

Town Centre Regeneration Manager, Ellen Young, who has worked with community stakeholders, designers and artists to develop a plan for the area, says the changes will make Drews Avenue even more of an arts and hospitality destination.

“Working together with the community we have come up with some clever and quirky ideas for Drews Avenue and these will be installed over the next few weeks ahead of the celebration event.”

One of the people hard at work is Wellington sculptor Kim Beaton, who is working in an Aramoho shed to produce a giant marble run which will be positioned near the corner of Drews Avenue and Ridgway Street.

Kim Beaton, who has been a sculptor for 30 years and worked at Weta Workshop, says when she got together with the council’s Town Centre Regeneration team “there was a real electricity in the air because we’re working on something unprecedented – this hits that rare sweet spot between public art, entertainment and city beautification.”

The marble run will take the form of a river landscape, with mountain ranges, river banks and channels. Construction materials include tinfoil and a clay-like concrete product called Pal Tiya Premium which is strong enough for people to walk on.

“As I’m sculpting the soft clay with a spoon I’m rolling marbles over it and reshaping the clay to make sure it’s random enough,” Kim Beaton says.

“Kids will do the marble run hundreds of times as they try to figure out how to always win it. My job is to prevent that from happening so it is continually interesting.

“As I work I hold inside my mind the image of a five year-old kid having a go – I’m constantly touch-stoning the moment of that kid rolling their marble down, making it clatter and rattle, and I’m asking are they having a good time?

“This has to feel cool so kids are compelled to grab the marbles and roll them down again and again and again.”

Other changes to the Drews Avenue streetscape will include greenery, seating, light boxes for an outdoor gallery space with UCOL student art and painted wayfinding strips designed by local artist Cecelia Kumeroa.

Ellen Young says the Town Centre Regeneration team is “looking forward to celebrating the completion of the Drews Avenue streetscape at this fabulous community event.”

The combined Lights on Bikes and Drews street party event is free and open to all ages.

Lights on Bikes organiser, Shanti Sibbing, says, “Come along with your light up costumes and wheels, whether it’s a bike, scooter, skateboard, pram or other wheeled contraption – we can’t wait to see everyone’s decorations this year!

“We’ll gather at the corner of Drews Avenue and Rutland Street at 6.00pm, with the parade leaving around 6.30pm.”

This year the Lights on Bikes parade will follow a shorter route, heading down Drews Avenue to the river, along the river boardwalk and Taupo Quay to Bates Street then looping back through Pākaitore Moutoa Gardens and Rutland Street to Drews Avenue.

“We anticipate that people will travel around the route multiple times, pausing to enjoy the performers and installations along the way,” Shanti Sibbing says.

Live music will start in Drews Avenue around 7.00pm and there will also be food trucks, face painting and entertainment.

Ninety percent of the Drews Avenue project is funded by central government’s Innovating Streets fund, which gives councils the chance to trial changes to streetscapes. Community feedback on the changes to Drews Avenue will be gathered over a year to assess whether they should be removed, changed or made permanent.

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