One of the signs of the health of a community is to look at its shared public spaces, such as community parks and gardens. Several community groups of La Porte realized this and decided to take action to beautify five of their outdoor spaces in a delightfully unique and creative way. The Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, American Licorice, Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and Urban Enterprise Association each sponsored the construction of an outdoor instrument.
The project was spearheaded by Mitch Feikes, owner of Mitch Feikes Builder’s Inc, Laura Cutler, owner of Thaddeus C Gallery and City Councilperson of La Porte, and Beth Shrader, Director of Community Development and Planning.
“The city applied for a grant and were turned down. I thought it was a great idea, so we went fundraising in the community and got this done. We got grants from each of the five different groups and raised about $26,000. It’s been a labor of love and took about 9 months from start to finish,” stated Feikes.
As the group walked around for the ribbon cutting at each of the five sites, you could see the smiles on the faces of the adults, with the oldest among them being the first to try and create music on the instruments. Perhaps there’s merit to that old saying about being a kid at heart.
“The project started as an idea that would bring imagination and excitement for kids, to discover and spur imagination and fun. It brought a lot of community groups together and it was completely about quality of life and fun here in La Porte,” said Cutler.
Each of the five instruments were minimalistic in design and beautiful in their sound. All of them reminiscent of a xylophone, marimba or a kalimba. The UEA donated the Swirl, vertical standing chime and stands at Plaza 618.
The Yantzee was donated by the Rotary Club of La Porte and looks like a xylophone and sits in Unity Park. The Manta Ray stands outside the Civic Auditorium and was donated by OCRA and resembles a cross between a xylophone and its namesake.
Fox Park holds the Imbarimba which resembles the marimba and an African kalimba and was donated by American Licorice. Lastly, the Contrabass Chimes loom large on the lakefront at Teledyne Park that was graciously donated by the Kiwanis Club of La Porte.
“These represent a collaboration of a lot of positive community members. It serves as a reminder to the community of the joyful sounds of music and the opportunity of the youth of the community to engage in music in a public setting”, said Mayor Mark Krentz. “It reminds everyone that La Porte is a great place to live. It’s a great day for the City of La Porte.”
“It’s going to be a great way to get kids out to play. It’s a fun new asset for them to enjoy, in addition to our beautiful new parks and playgrounds,” mentioned Mark Schreiber, Park Superintendent for La Porte.
Even the strong winds, under a cloudy and cold day in La Porte, couldn’t dampen the smiles and fun of everyone attending the ribbon cutting as they took turns playing on the instruments. Proving that music is universal and loved by everyone.