News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 25, 2013

Block Party a zippy good time

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — People from across the Wabash Valley descended on Wabash Avenue — from Fourth Street to Ninth Street — for some fun, food, games and music at the third annual Downtown Terre Haute Block Party on Saturday

With temperates in the mid 80s, crowds gathered for attractions such as the Kids Zone, “Local Legends Walk of Fame,” a vintage car show, poetry reading and plenty of live music.

But the most talked-about feature is the event’s newest attraction, the “Hauteans in Motion” zip line.

Thrill-seekers formed a queue on North Fifth Street between Wabash Avenue and Cherry Street for the event, which got zipping a little later than the scheduled 1 p.m. start time.

Among those waiting for a ride were two adventurous girls, 9-year-old Sophie Hurst and her younger sister, Maddie, 8.

“It looks like a lot of fun,” Sophie said, “because you’re going through the air from high.”

She said she has tried to ride in other places but was told that there was an age restriction, so she was excited about this opportunity.

Maddie, who stood beside Sophie in line, said she is “kind of scared,” but “it looks like fun.”

Their dad, Ben Hurst, was with them. Their mom was at the party, too. The family drove from their home in Sullivan.

“They heard there’s a zipline here and couldn’t miss it,” Hurst said.

“I wasn’t a bit surprised,” that the girls wanted to ride, he said. The daughters are adventurous and have no fear of heights, he said.

Another thrill-seeker waited patiently in line.

Coral Guinn, 18, from Brazil said she was not scared.

“It gives me a thrill. I did it last time [on Thursday at Ivy Tech], and I want to do it again,” she said.

Her aunt, Stacy Holley of Terre Haute was there for support.

“She’s our little adventure person,” Holley said.

When asked if she is planning to ride the line, “I’m debating it,” she responded.

As Guinn waited, she asked the zip line organizers if she can test it out for them. She was apparently told no, because the mayor has to test it.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett was drafted to be the first to ride after the organizers had set up and tested the zip line.

“It’s just a little different. It’ll be fun,” Bennett said before the ride.

He added that he agreed to inaugurate the zip line to support downtown activities.

Assisted by the organizers, Bennett prepared for the ride.

As he took off, cheers exploded and fireworks went off.

“It goes faster than what it looks like once you go,” Bennett said after he landed.

“It felt good,” he said. “It was different and it does… give you that thrill,” he added.

“The first step you take… that’s the weird one,” Bennett said.

Another zip line rider made a comment about that “first step.”

Torrie Gregory, 16, of Terre Haute, said that stepping off the platform was the scariest part.

“After that, it was fun flying through the air,” she said.

“It feels like you’re weightless,” she added.

Others at the Block Party felt like they were flying also, although not as high.

Dancers from a local dance school jumped up and down as they danced ballet, jazz, modern and tap.

The performance ensemble of the Academy of Dance, consisting of boys and girls aged 9 to 17 years old, told the story of “A Little Princess” to a huge crowd gathered at the Crossroads Plaza (stage 4) along Wabash Avenue.

Dancers Emily Lagrange, 14, and Victoria Antonini, 15, said they love dancing.

“It’s my favorite thing to do,” Antonini said.

Lagrange and Antonini both said that the hour-long performance at the Block Party was a “great experience.” It was a chance to perform in front of a large audience.

But it’s certainly not their first time performing in front of a crowd.

Academy of Dance owner Patti Willey said the performance Saturday was the mini-version of a larger school recital.

Willey also said the dance school has been participating in the Block Party since its inception.

It is an opportunity to represent the art community at the event, she said.

Across the street from the performance, a family rested under a shade to hide from the sun.

Jason Krstich of Terre Haute was accompanied by his two nieces and a nephew at the event.

“We’re up here enjoying the sights and sounds,” he said.

Drinking their lemon shake-ups, Krstich said they have been looking around, checking out the vendors representing area groups, businesses and non-profits.

“It’s enjoyable out here,” Krstich said.

His nieces and nephew are visiting town.

“I really like it,” said his 13-year old niece, Grace, of downtown Terre Haute.

“I like that everyone makes their own stuff here,” she added, referring to the artists at some of the booths.

“The energy here is very happy. Everyone’s just kind of laid back,” Grace said of the party.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@