Monday, June 19, 2023

The Pasadena Chalk Festival 2023 - Day 2 - National Park Emblem and Splash Mountain

It's late at night, but I wanted to get a post up about the Pasadena Chalk Festival and our awesome time there. This year we have two murals! Ruston and I are doing the poster for Splash Mountain, and Theresa and the kids are promoting the National Park Service by drawing their emblem!

There's plenty of other amazing chalk artists at the festival, but this post is mostly about us. I'll be covering everyone else in a separate write-up. 

Last night we covered our murals with a plastic painters tarp, barricaded them with downed umbrellas, and prayed no one would decide to go on a crazy destructive spree though the convention center forecourt. Luckily everyone's murals were intact when we returned the next morning!

Yesterday Ian was doing such an amazing job talking up the National Parks to everyone he met. It made me proud to hear other people compliment Theresa for having such an awesome kid. 
One of the people Ian struck up a good conversation about the parks was event photographer Brian Biery. He's been covering the event here for years and years. At the end of the festival, he's the one who is on the tall ladder getting top-down shots of all the murals. 
Brian just happens to love the National Parks too and also tries to encourage people to go visit them. 

He brought Ian a calendar filled with awesome photographs of different National and State parks. Ian gave him a big hug then started to look through the calendar. Each page had amazing photos on it and Ian was complimenting them all. When he learned that it was Brian who took each of those photos, he was amazed and jumped up to give him another big hug. Thank you for the beautiful gift Brian! The kids want to hang it in the RV as soon as we get back!

Ruston and I have been making good progress on our mural today too. Those blue shaded letters are popping in the sky. 

And we have a Mister Bluebird joining us. 

And Ruston's special addition to the mural, in tribute of Tiana's Place coming soon and replacing Splash Mountain. 

Adding a bit more shading to the skyline. 

I'm touching things up here and there, but it's looking really good. 

Where yesterday Ian was doing a lot of the talking, Alli has been watching Ian and she's taking the lead on talking to people. 

Handing out stickers and talking about all the amazing places there are to visit. 

Theresa is just about finished. What's that? You are finished? 

Well then you know what that means. It's time to pull up the tape! 
In past years, Ruston and I would save this part for the kids to "help" with our mural. Today though, they can proudly say that this mural belongs to them. 

Pull that tape-line up and show us the beauty underneath. 

Alli, Theresa, and Ian, I am super proud of you all. Not only for making an amazing mural but also getting into the whole spirit of the event. You could just draw with your head down while people walk around you, but you've been engaging, inspiring, and excited about sharing your passion. Many people walked away with a smile because of you. 

And the mural looks great too. You picked a topic just about anyone can relate to and talk about. Excellent choice!

Show me those hands. 

Excellent work. 

I loved all the different props too. From the National Park Maps that you would show to people, to the stuffed animals from your adventures. I saw many people getting a photo with the stuffed animals in the foreground and the mural in the background. 
And so many people were impressed with all your Junior Ranger badges! Lots of people wanted pictures of you and with you. 

Back over to our mural, we're still hard at work. But if someone wants a picture with us looking, we stop and smile for the camera. This group had an instant camera and when Ruston commented on how cool it was, they asked if we would pose for one more. 

And when the film popped out, they happily presented it to Ruston for his very own keepsake. Thank you!

One other really cool thing that happened was that the DJ took special requests from the chalk artists. I asked if he could play Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah for us and he did! For the entire festival to hear! 

Ooh, we are getting close. 

Ruston, are you ready to call it? We could spend the rest of the day tweaking minor details, but we've been so busy we've barely been able to get out and chat with all the other artists. That's half the fun of the festival, so we're going to call it. We're done! 

And today, for the first time in years, we pull the tape off our mural ourselves. 

Another great year Ruston! This one was way more detailed and intricate than anything we've ever done, but I'm proud of us for pushing our limits. 

Just a comparison between the original poster (which I think was scanned a little dark) and our finished chalk piece. Yes, definitely happy with that. 

Theresa related a few memorable stories to me later. "Some people were really excited about seeing the National Park emblem. One woman said they came back again to see this piece of art because it was the best one at the whole festival. This particular family might have been super fans of the National Parks. They showed me pictures of their kids' with 200 National Park badges on a board! Another couple of ladies talked to Ian for about 5 minutes and were extremely impressed with his knowledge of the National Parks, and they made it a point to swing back by to say Hi to him one more time before leaving."

Theresa - Many people asked if she worked for the National Park Service. I said no, but we were really big fans of it, and that we wanted to share our love of it. 

Now that the drawings are all done, Alli can focus on chatting with people about the National Parks. 
And give away the rest of the 400 National Park stickers we bought. 

I didn't know it, but one of the event volunteers who does a lot of the social media work interviewed Ian yesterday and posted it! When Isabella heard the mural was completed, she came over one more time to do another interview, this time with Alli too!

More than once, I caught Ian telling people about "all the different cool murals he's seen at the festival". Like that one right there (pointing to ours). Ha! Thanks buddy. 

I'm smiling to be finished today too! 

Just a couple other fun stories before we wrap things up. I remember seeing Raymond Aguilar ever since our first time at the festival. Without fail, he always centers his mural around the same thing. Can you guess what it is? If you said turtles you are absolutely right. This picture was from Saturday, but he's wearing a Leonardo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirt. He said it was one of his favorite cartoons growing up. 

His mural today it dedicated to his new turtle Stanley. The colors represent Stanley's Shell. Love it!

Stanley came over to visit the kids National Park mural 

And got a picture next to the other animals. Stanley is pretty cool. 

Anyway... tying this all back together, Ruston has had so many friends come to visit us at the festival this year. It's been awesome seeing people you know coming to check out and support the different things you do. Well, one of those friends just happens to be Cam Clarke, who happens to be the person who gave TMNT Leonardo his voice since 1987 in the original cartoon! Others have done it since, but Cam has still voiced him even in 2022! To say that Raymond was floored might be an understatement! 

It was so cool that Ruston had so many friends stop by and visit him. Both people from work and personal friends came out to the chalk festival and stopped by to say hi. 

One other couple that we've gotten to know more and more over the years has been Jamie Leake and his wife Sarah. Jamie always has a humorous cartoon that makes me smile. Sarah is always super encouraging and during our toughest first year at the festival was our cheerleader and encouraged us the whole way. Well along with cartoons, Sarah and Jamie both love the outdoors. They loved the National Park Service logo and told me a story that I hadn't heard before today. Their oldest son Joshua, was so named partially because of their love for Joshua Tree National Park. Their new daughter, also keeping the same convention, is named Parker! How awesome is that! 

After working hard all day, everyone was ready to eat some dinner. 

Blaze Pizza was so good a couple days ago, it was perfect to have yet again. 

Walking back to the festival for the awards ceremonies. 

Shortly after arriving, I pointed out to Theresa a couple of corgis that someone was posing in front of her mural for a picture. When they got up though, she noticed that they weren't in front of her mural, they were ON her mural! 

Which means... green corgi butts! Oh my. It gave us all a good chuckle. 

And while we waited for the awards, we found another one of my old co-workers and his family out enjoying the festival. Great to see you Henry! 

Not to leave you in suspense, the award ceremony was great, but we didn't win anything. That's alright though. There were some very talented artists this year who did some fantastic pieces. 

The kids are already talking about what they might want to do for their mural next year and they're excited! We've got a while to plan it!
Big thanks to the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Convention Center for supporting this festival and allowing it to continue for its 30th year anniversary! Thank you to Blicks Art Supply for providing all the chalk and canvases to all the artists. To all the volunteers and everyone behind the scenes that we don't see that makes this event happen, we say thank you! 


  1. Despite missing out on an official award, everyone is a winner at the Chalk Festival, especially those who are inspiring and engaging!! What a special photo calendar for Ian from Brian...something to enjoy everyday, as well as bring back some fond memories. Super proud husband & Dad on the inspiration and excitement for Nat'l Parks exuding from Theresa, Ian, & Alli throughout the festival...wonderful mural to help express that, along w/ all the props (and Jr Ranger ambassadors!). Great interview from Alli & Ian, sharing their love for Nat'l Parks and some friendly reminders to any visitors to those lovely parks :-) A lot of detailed & colorful work on the Splash Mountain mural but it was worth it! how it turned out. So good to hear Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah was piped throughout the festival per your request :-)...such a happy, uplifting tune. EOM

  2. Thank you for sharing! You guys did an amazing job. Hope to see you next year! -Heather Hilliard Bonds I love that Stanley came to visit too!