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Relays Edition

Another coat for Court Avenue alums

Photos courtesy of Drake University Alumni

Campus Street Painting has long since been a Drake University tradition, a staple that students look forward to year-round to mark the coming of Relays. Paint is thrown, music is blasted, and by the end of it all several squares are covered in fun themed designs and paint—though some would argue that most of it ends up on the students — not between 27th and 28th streets along Carpenter Avenue in the middle of campus.

Given the fun, the spirit, and the advertising to be had, last year Drake University along with the city of Des Moines and the Court Avenue District sponsored a Downtown Street Painting event. And this year they’re at it again on the sidewalks between Third and Fourth streets on Court Avenue.

According to Jonathan Brendemuehl, the assistant director of alumni and parent relations at Drake, they are expecting close to 40 businesses and organizations to be participating in the event. Each team can have up to five people working together to paint their four-foot by four-foot square. Like with Campus Street Painting, the businesses and organizations are told to keep the theme—this year it’s “Come for the races, stay for the ______” — in mind. The two winners from Drake’s street painting will even be invited to recreate their squares downtown. “We do our best to try and engage the students where appropriate, so we reserve two squares for the winners of street painting,” Brendemuehl says.

Though the rules are much more strict downtown — no paint can be thrown and guidelines must be followed — people are still welcome to come watch the street painting unfold. But if you can’t make it to the afternoon painting, Wednesday April 27 from 1 to 4 p.m., don’t be too concerned. The squares—like the ones on Drake’s campus — will be left there until they’re whitewashed for the 2012 celebration. “As long as the weather permits for them to stay up, they’ll stay up,” Brendemuehl says. “And most of them if you go down now said pretty unscathed.” The best business square and best nonprofit/community square will be announced at 4:30 p.m. The 2010 winners were Pioneer Communications and the Repertory Theater of Iowa, respectively.

Last year about 41 squares were painted, and with just about every group bringing their five painters along, it was a pretty busy event for a Wednesday morning during business hours. So this year, the time was changed. “Our feedback from a lot of business people participating was that it was pretty difficult for them to go back to work afterwards,” Brendemuehl says. “They have to get back in professional clothes after they’ve been painting all day and they just didn’t want to — they’d been enjoying a beautiful day and then had to go back to the mindset of working in the office. So this year we decided to move it to the afternoon. That’s a big shift from where we were last year.”

Everyone is fired up to celebrate the 2011 Relays. So walk along the sidewalks between Third and Fourth streets on Court Avenue to see the spirit of downtown bulldogs.

If you’re going:

When: April 27, noon – 4:30 p.m.

Where: Court Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets


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