Annual Chalk the Walks event set for Tuesday

About 300 participated in first year; about 46,000 joined in globally in 2016

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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The Joy Team’s Chalk the Walks event has grown so much since starting in 2011 its creator can’t even keep track anymore.

“It’s really taking on a life of its own,” Michele McKeag Larsen, Joy Team founder, said. “Our main event builds and builds and builds. People are creating their own Facebook events. There are events going on all over the place that I’m sure I don’t even know of.”

During Chalk the Walks, people aim to spread joy and positivity by writing uplifting messages in chalk. In the event’s first year, about 300 people participated mostly around Vancouver. Last year, at least 46,000 people participated from every state, as well other countries, including events in Australia, Egypt and Ireland.

This year’s Chalk the Walks takes place Tuesday. The event continues to grow; the Joy Team has a few cities around the country who signed on as Community Partners and are hosting events throughout the day.

“It’s a great way to pull cities together at a low cost. Sidewalk chalk is pretty cheap,” Larsen said. “When you have an organization like a city wanting to pull their citizens together to spread joy with sidewalk chalk, that’s pretty amazing to me.”

Vancouver is one of those Community Partners. There are nearly 20 locations where residents can chalk in Vancouver on Tuesday, and the city and Joy Team are teaming up to host an event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall, 415 W. Sixth St., where residents can grab some chalk, listen to music or enjoy a treat from the Funky Fresh Juice Cart.

The only other Community Partner in Clark County this year is in La Center, where La Center United and the La Center Community Library will host chalk events from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m. at the library, 1411 N.E. Lockwood Creek Road, La Center.

For the full list of chalk community partners and official chalk locations, visit www.thejoyteam.org/chalk-walks.

Participation in the event isn’t limited to those locations, though. Larsen said anyone can join in, and asks people to either post photos to the Joy Team’s Facebook page for the event online at bit.ly/chalk2017, or use the hashtag “chalkthewalks” on Twitter and Instagram.