A street party to celebrate Whanganui's new Drews Ave streetscape will be part of the 2021 Lights on Bikes event scheduled for Friday, June 25.
Whanganui District Council's town centre regeneration manager, Ellen Young, who has worked with community stakeholders, designers and artists to develop a plan for the area, said the changes would make Drews Ave more of an arts and hospitality destination.
"Working together with the community we have come up with some clever and quirky ideas for Drews Ave and these will be installed over the next few weeks ahead of the celebration event," Young said.
Wellington sculptor Kim Beaton is making a giant marble run that will be positioned near the corner of Drews Ave and Ridgway St.
Beaton, who has been a sculptor for 30 years and has worked at Weta Workshop, said she had enjoyed working with the council.
"There was a real electricity in the air because we're working on something unprecedented and this hits that rare sweet spot between public art, entertainment and city beautification," she said.
The marble run will take the form of a river landscape, with mountain ranges, riverbanks and channels.
Construction materials include tinfoil and a clay-like concrete product called Pal Tiya Premium which is strong enough for people to walk on.
"As I'm sculpting the soft clay with a spoon I'm rolling marbles over it and reshaping the clay to make sure it's random enough," Beaton said.
"Kids will do the marble run hundreds of times as they try to figure out how to always win it. My job is to prevent that from happening so it is continually interesting.
"As I work I hold inside my mind the image of a 5-year-old kid having a go – I'm constantly touch-stoning the moment of that kid rolling their marble down, making it clatter and rattle, and I'm asking are they having a good time?
"This has to feel cool so kids are compelled to grab the marbles and roll them down again and again and again."
Other changes to the Drews Ave streetscape will include greenery, seating, light boxes for an outdoor gallery space with UCOL student art, and painted Wayfinding strips designed by local artist Cecelia Kumeroa.
Young said the team was looking forward to celebrating the completion of the Drews Ave streetscape at the event.
The combined Lights on Bikes and Drews Ave street party event is free and open to all ages.
Lights on Bikes organiser Shanti Sibbing encourages everyone to participate.
"Come along with your light-up costumes and wheels, whether it's a bike, scooter, skateboard, pram or other wheeled contraption – we can't wait to see everyone's decorations this year," she said.
"We'll gather at the corner of Drews Ave and Rutland St at 6pm with the parade leaving around 6.30pm."
This year the Lights on Bikes parade will follow a shorter route, heading down Drews Ave to the river, along the river boardwalk and Taupo Quay to Bates St then looping back through Pākaitore Moutoa Gardens and Rutland St to Drews Ave.
"We anticipate that people will travel around the route multiple times, pausing to enjoy the performers and installations along the way," Sibbing said.
Live music will start in Drews Ave around 7pm and there will also be food trucks, face painting and entertainment.
Ninety per cent of the Drews Ave project is funded by central government's Innovating Streets fund, which gives councils the chance to trial changes to streetscapes.
Community feedback on the changes to Drews Ave will be gathered over a year to assess whether they should be removed, changed or made permanent.