Honey for the Heart takes over Court Street during the HallOUween block party

Puppets of all shapes and sizes march down Court Street on Saturday evening during the HallOUween parade. Photo courtesy of Evan Chwalek.

Those who walk down E. Carpenter Street, which is right off Court Street, will find a hidden gem in the midst of Athens. Starting at the beginning of October, Collaborative Art International begins to prepare for the annual Honey for the Heart parade. Located at 29 E. Carpenter St., Honey for the Heart has produced a wonderland of puppetry and imagination.

Patty Mitchell and Robert Lockheed are the artists who spearhead the Collaborative Art International program in Athens. Along with the help of Daniel Polnau, a visual artist from Minneapolis, Mitchell and Lockheed formed Honey for the Heart.

Four years ago, the idea for a huge parade of puppets to take to the streets on the evening of the Athens HallOUween Block Party formed when Mitchell, Lockheed and Polnau were inspired by the MayDay Parade in Minneapolis, which celebrates the rebirth and warmth of spring with hand-built puppets and masks.

 

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“We took this love for puppets and art along with the spirit of Athens to expand on what already is HallOUween,” Mitchell said. “The name for the idea came from a woman visiting Athens who described the town as ‘honey for the heart.’ It has stuck ever since.”

Honey for the Heart is one of the program’s community art collaborations partnered with Arts for Ohio and Ohio University Learning Communities to make the program possible. Materials used for the puppets are various recycled items such as cardboard, old VCR tapes and soup cans that community members have donated.

The magic behind Honey for the Heart is that curious individuals can walk in and begin to create whatever they wish with virtually anything.

“It can be described as a room full of creative energy,” said Art Werger, professor of printmaking at Ohio University.

For the month of October, Werger watched and helped countless students and community members create the masterpieces that were paraded down Court Street during the night of the block party.

Joel Baker, a senior at Ohio University, is one of the students who worked vigorously all month long on the puppets.

“I love coming here to create,” Baker said. “Everyone here is so cool and friendly. It’s such an open and free environment.”

Students and community members were not the only hands sculpting puppets for the parade. Honey for the Heart has had visiting artists such as Bill Fick contribute to the production. Fick is a printmaker from North Carolina whose prints are enlarged and brought to life through the art of puppetry.

Honey for the Heart seeks to capture a genuine essence of Athens in its display of artwork.

“One of the hopes we’ve had for Honey for the Heart is to take what HallOUween is generally thought to be, which is partying and drinking, and to grow to be more than that,” Werger said.

 

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In four short years, Honey for the Heart has gained serious momentum. For this year’s parade, 500 people were needed just to operate and carry all of the puppets up and down Court Street.

Along with those controlling and maneuvering the puppets, several people accompanied the parade while playing instruments and making noise.

“Voice, dance—it’s all part of it,” Mitchell said.

The growing popularity for Honey for the Heart has added personality and excitement to the HallOUween celebration.

While walking down Court Street on the evening of the block party, one can feel the energy and excitement in the air. Just as the sun begins to go down, the parade of puppets takes over. Honey for the Heart continues to be a “must see” on HallOUween.

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