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Lake Jovita draws in first chalk art festival

By Kit Ingalls
Published February 14, 2007


SAINT LEO - Matt Mooney, 13, labeled his colorful drawing Da Mooninator, and, following the time-honored practice of abstract artists, refused to say what it was. But if Matt would not describe his work, his young admirers would do it for him.

"Look what Matt drawed," said Cole Darbyshire, 5. "He drawed a giant pretzel."

"It's a pool," countered Lucas Pelt, also 5.

"Water slide," declared Ryan Fenton, 7, with authority. The youngsters concurred in a chorus of giggles.

Matt relented, accepted the description, and his twisting pastel strands became Da Mooninator Water Slide. It was one of 15 works of chalk art gracing the jogging trail at Lake Jovita's Community Park Saturday morning.

"This is our community playground, which was dedicated on Dec. 9," said Linda Pelt, who heads the community's youth committee.

When the Zephyrhills Chalk Art Festival was canceled, Pelt took it as a sign to go to work. She and co-chairwoman Kim Darbyshire worked the phones.

"We decided to take it on at Lake Jovita and have our children do chalk art here as a community event," she said.

With several boxes of sidewalk chalk, a card table with some snacks, and a place to draw, the first Lake Jovita Chalk Art Festival was born.

It was a no-rules event. The kids chose their spaces and subjects. Some marked off defined rectangles. Others let their work sprawl. After an hour, the chalk art occupied 195 feet of track.

Ray Davis detoured onto the grass to avoid the drawings as he ran laps.

"I respect artwork," he said with a smile. "There are some budding artists here. They're serious, too. They're expressing themselves and putting it out for people to look at."

Ali Smith, 7, drew a large pink heart. Her friend Tate Emo, 3, helped. The two had prior experience drawing together on the Smiths' driveway.

Ali wrote a dedication above the heart, "I love Mom and Dad," and then moved on to color a pink and blue butterfly.

Austin Pelt, 9, created a dazzling orange and fuchsia flame with intricate edging.

Annie Bouchard drew flowers in pink. Her 21-month-old son, Shawn Bohne, colored them in blue, getting almost as much chalk on the pavement as he did on himself.

Ryan Fenton and Cade Darbyshire, both 7, worked together.

"Cade is supervising, as usual," his mother, Kim, said with a laugh.

The duo of 5-year-olds, Cole and Lucas, were most prolific, drawing a bright orange and yellow flame, a basketball - complete with ribs - and a racetrack, where car No. 99 led three others.

"Carl Edwards," explained Lucas, who then drew another car with No. 48, for his favorite driver, Jimmie Johnson.

In all, 15 children came with their parents.

Glenn Pelt came by after the artwork was completed, and his youngest son conducted a tour.

"Talented kids," Pelt said when he saw the flame drawings.

Lucas pointed out Matt Mooney's drawing.

"Matt did that? Cool," said Pelt. "Hard to tell what it is, though."

"Dad," Lucas said, sighing. "It's a water slide."

[Last modified February 13, 2007, 23:18:49]

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