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'Bolt the Benches, Paint the Town': Dickinson Downtown Association seeks to beautify alleyways, asks artists to submit mural proposals

The beautification of downtown Dickinson is taking a step forward with a new community project “Bolt the Benches, Paint the Town.”

“We’re trying to get people to appreciate downtown by bringing in more beauty,” Dickinson Downtown Association member Laurie Willett said.

While city streets are accented by trees, shrubs and flowers, efforts are turning to the alleyways.

Willett serves on the DDA beautiful committee with Kristy Bang and Laurie Strommen. They are looking to beautify the alleyways through art — one alley at a time.

“We want families to appreciate that downtown Dickinson is growing — take the dog for a walk, take the kids for a stroller ride — appreciate what downtown has to offer now and in the future,” Willett said.

Beautifying the alleyways

To beautify the first alley, the Dickinson Downtown Association has launched the Bolt the Benches, Paint the Town community event on Sunday, Aug. 3.

The location of the first alley will be kept a surprise until the morning of the event. Four to six park benches will be bolted to city-approved spots in the downtown area.

Local artists are invited to submit sketches of a proposed mural to be painted on the alley wall. Names of the alleyway also are being accepted.

“We want creativity,” Willett said.

The top 25 percent of applications will be submitted for display on the day of the event, along with canisters so the public may vote with cash for their favorite.

“All funds will go toward painting the mural on the wall,” she said. “We’re figuring it will cost between $300 and $500 to paint.”

Around 11:30 a.m., grills will be fired up to serve hot dogs, compliments of Scull Construction.

The afternoon will offer multiple activities for families.

Meet your local heroes

“This is a meet your local heroes — police, fire department and Army,” Willet said.

The Dickinson Police Department will greet the children and present drug awareness programs. The Dickinson Fire Department will give similar programs about fire prevention.

As an added surprise, people dressed in costumes — from Power Rangers to Cinderella — will be strolling through the alley with storybooks in hand. As they gather a collection of children, the characters will sit and read with them, Willet said.

“Other thing, we’ll have a box full of costumes so the kids able to dress up and have their photo taken,” Willett said.

Celebrations ‘n’ Crafts is a partner business for the event.

“It’s an amazing, perfect fit for us,” co-owner Amanda Galster said.

She and co-owner Josh Hardin were thinking of an art project for downtown even before they opened the store.

“When Laurie came to us, we were ecstatic — it all came together,” she said. “We want downtown to get more art in it. Downtown Dickinson has gorgeous architecture and we feel we can pull together to get more and more art out there.”

Artists affiliated with Celebration ‘n’ Crafts will be chalkboard painting the lower level of an alley wall. Below their art, a space will be made available for children to draw with chalk.

In exchange for a piece of chalk, children are invited to donate a food or toy item for Oreo’s Animal Rescue.

Artists interested in submitting a mural proposal may register at Celebrations ‘n’ Crafts at 31 First St. W. The deadline to submit applications is July 25.