Many families around Southern California have been deep into back-to-school shopping lists in recent weeks. Thousands of new rulers have been purchased, and boxes of pencils, and three-ring binders, and glue sticks and scissors and paper, too.
But we don't see too many requests for chalk nowadays, save as a plaything for the sidewalk in front of our home. Not even teachers use chalk all that much; rather, white boards reign in many places, and chalk holders, and erasers, are a rarer sight.
Except at Redondo Beach Pier, on a special Saturday in September each year. The pier hosts a Back-to-School Chalk Festival, for actual back-to-schoolers and their grown-ups, and anyone who has been missing chalk from all of those chalk-free school supply lists can get their chalky fill over the course of a couple of art-making hours.
Oh yes, that's right: You make the art, for free, at the pier, on the ground. "Help us turn Redondo Beach into a concrete canvas!" requests the festival site, so if being creative in public is your bag, and not having to pay to do so, then be at the pier on Saturday, Sept. 12.
It costs nothing to join and you may leave the pier with a goodie in hand ("prizes" are part of the day-out deal).
We already see a couple of prizes inherent in the event. One, you get to hang out near the beach, in the soft sunshine of late summer, making pictures and people-watching and soaking in some rays. Win.
But the other win is revisiting chalk, a supply many of us knew well from our school days, but which isn't seen quite as often in these modern times. The snap of chalk and the scent and the weight of a chalk stick in one's hand all can produce some warm memories of classroom days gone by.
Rather than standing at a chalkboard, though, you'll be on the ground drawing dolphins and rainbows. Chalk, you're a wonder, and whatever your journey holds, you'll always reign in our nostalgic hearts and at concrete-canvas'd chalk festivals, such as the one at Redondo Beach Pier.