Oak Forest resident Mandy Estrada just wanted to be where the people are.
Like many other people, she’s at home practicing social distancing while looking for ways to get creative. Her outlet ended up bringing a smile to others’ faces as well.
“I run my own company as a creative director and with work being slow, I needed to find a way to express my creative side,” Estrada said.
So she grabbed some chalk and started with what brings her happiness: Disney. While thinking about being stuck inside, she remembered The Little Mermaid’s Ariel singing, “I wanna be where the people are …” That quote, along with Ariel and her pal Flounder, was Estrada’s first chalk art.
“From there I just started thinking about other animated films with quotes that pertained to our current reality,” Estrada said.
While area residents spend most of their time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Estrada and others have been playing with chalk and making it interactive. Some in local neighborhoods have created chalk obstacle courses for children to enjoy while their schools are closed in an attempt to slow the spread of the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Estrada’s other two “chalk-toons,” as she calls them, were Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast with the quote, “It’ll turn out all right in the end you’ll see,” and Winnie the Pooh with his hand in a honey jar with the quote, “I wasn’t going to eat it, I was just gonna taste it.”
The chalk art was mostly done on her back patio. But since posting photos of it online, she’s heard from numerous people, including her neighbors, about how they loved the art.
“I really wasn’t expecting to get such positive feedback. So many people have reached out through social media encouraging me to post more,” Estrada said. “It’s been great connecting and hearing people’s reactions about what I will post next.”
While the art has since been washed away by rain, Estrada plans to create more — this time in the front for people to walk by and enjoy on the 4800 block of De Milo Drive.
“I have even had neighbors make special requests and offered their driveways as a blank canvass,” Estrada said.
Last week, Becky Danna and her two daughters created an obstacle course on the 800 block of Nashua. The course featured hopping in a zig-zag, reaching up high, then touching your toes, hopscotch, spinning in circles and more.
“Lots of time and two energetic kids were the inspiration. They helped decide on the actions and colors,” Danna said. “There’s a cul-de-sac at the end of our street so lots of neighbors walk, run and ride by. We’ve seen many people smile at the challenge and video themselves or their kids completing it.”
There was also a chalk course in the parking lot of St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, 2003 W. 43rd St., featuring walking the plank, hopscotch and more.