Meewasin Valley trails get covered in chalk as Saskatoon tries to break longest-mural world record

Officials with the Meewasin Valley Authority say they were impressed with the turnout at an attempt to top the Guinness Book of World Records' list for the longest sidewalk chalk mural.

The Meewasin Valley Authority estimated it would take 18,000 pieces of chalk to set the Guinness record

Nick Hutchinson works on a piece of art on the Meewasin Valley Authority trail system on Saturday. He was one of hundreds of people who came out to participate in the MVA's attempt to break the world record for the longest chalk mural ever created. He said his work represents the feelings of calm and peace he finds while walking in the river valley. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

Chalk dust was literally flying on the Meewasin Valley Authority trails on Saturday as hundreds of people came out in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest sidewalk chalk mural ever produced. 

Bright blues, yellows, pinks and greens adorned a large chunk of the trail in Saskatoon as residents with chalk-covered hands made their mark by the dozen.

The current record is held by Greeley, Colo. — a city that produced a chalk mural 5.7 kilometres long inside a massive parking lot in 2015.

The Meewasin Valley Authority hopes its mural reaches a total length of six kilometres.

Those working toward that goal on Saturday said they thought the event was a great way to cap off the summer season. 

"It's amazing," said Jaret Diachysahyn. "The turnout is great. All of the murals are awesome, they're very colourful and I think it's a great community event."

A sidewalk chalk mural that stretched on for hundreds of metres can be seen along the trail system in Saskatoon. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC )

He said it's also a chance for people to come out and enjoy the river valley, as some people may not be aware such a natural treasure exists in downtown Saskatoon. 

"Maybe some people don't realize the beauty they have right here," he said.

The theme of the mural was the Meewasin Valley, so while pieces of art ranged widely, all had a connection to the landmarks, animals and wildlife that make up the river valley. Nick Hutchinson was creating a colourful mandala piece, as walks along the river usually help him find peace and relax.

Volunteers and officials with the Meewasin Valley Authority gave out pieces of chalk by the handful on Saturday, as hundreds of residents came out to participate in the world record attempt. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

"I grouped a lot of these warm colours together to kind of reflect the sun and the sunlight, and then the cooler colours to do the greens with the riverbank and the water," he said. "Otherwise I just wanted to keep it with a lot of line work, because I find that a very peaceful and relaxing to do." 

Organizers of the event passed out pieces of chalk and had stations at each kilometre, with the mural growing outward from each station and eventually meeting up to produce an enormous, chalk-based exhibit.

"So impressed," is how Meewasin Valley Authority CEO Andrea LaFond reponsded when asked about the turnout, as more than 1,300 people signed up on Eventbrite and many showed up in person ready to work.

'People love those trails,' says Andrea Lafond, CEO of the Meewasin Valley Authority. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

LaFond said with 1.2 million visits to the trail system annually, she feels people wanted to embrace and contribute to the MVA in a unique way. 

"People love those trails. They love our unique landscape," she said. "We're very fortunate to have this urban access to all of these trees and the river, so I think it was a no-brainer that they wanted to be a part of today. They want to give back to Meewasin." 

The MVA said they would announce the official results of the world record attempt when they're available.

The authority earlier estimated it would take roughly 18,000 pieces of chalk and roughly 5,000 volunteers to break the record. 


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