Imagine popping into town for a spot of shopping and as you stroll down a demure street in the city on a sunny Bank Holiday, hundreds of extremely wet people suddenly start hurtling towards you down a giant bright blue PVC giant waterslide.
It may sound like the plot of an indie B movie dreamt up by a chemically-enhanced student, but the fact is that it actually happened last weekend in Park Street, Bristol, where a giant waterslide, 90 metres in length was installed in the street and more than 360 people were chosen from a staggering 100,000 entrants to have a go.
Why, you may ask? According to local artist Luke Jerram, the master behind the concept, the Park and Slide idea was about having fun and was inspired by the hot weather that we experienced last summer. The 90-metre slide was made of two rows of hay bales lined with a tarpaulin sheet sitting on a bed of foam matting, with foam supports welded into the sides as supports.
Imagination and Inspiration
A 50-metre version was tested last October, and incredulously met all health and safety conditions, and approval was given by the relevant authorities for a larger version. To make it happen, Luke had to raise £5,612, which he did, even turning down big brand sponsorship offers from Speedo and Red Bull. “If we do it with the help of major branding it becomes a very different thing. I don’t want it like that. I want it to be a free thing for people to enjoy how they want,” was Luke’s explanation.
The event was picked up and promoted by the Bristol Post and a staggering amount of people applied to one of the lucky ones to don their swimming gear and hurtle down the road. There were even applicants from as far afield as Abu Dhabi!
But it was the local population that benefited from the event, not just witnessing something unique and different, but local businesses saw more trade on a Bank Holiday. The Park Street Bristol branch of Nando’s sent its mascot ‘ Barci’ out and gave away free wings.
Street entertainers joined in the fun: there was so much to choose from including drummers, grannies on electric trolleys, singers, a food festival on college green and tipi restaurants set up in Queens Square.
‘’The atmosphere was brilliant and Park Street was really buzzing. It was great to see so many people enjoying the centre of Bristol on a Sunday. It has really kicked off the 2014 summer of events” said Helen, AC Services MD.
Mr Jerram was delighted with the outcome saying, “Park and Slide has helped to show people in the city that ideas, no matter how crazy, should be put out there and can happen. We all have these slightly crazy ideas in the pub on a Friday night. The trick is being able to hold on to them on Monday morning when you go back to work and then doing what it takes to push an idea through.”
Never too late
For those who missed out, worry not. The success of the event has convinced people that the Bristol people need excitement and let’s be honest, eccentricity in their city. There are plans afoot for more events; zip wires across the Avon Gorge and zorbing in the docks are just two of the suggestions for future events.
Watch this space.