Lakewood Alive’s Street Walk is this Saturday, July 23. It’ll be a mouth-to-the-fire-hose experience this weekend in Lakewood, as the city shuts down Detroit Avenue from 4 to 7 p.m. for about ten blocks of summer fun.
I mean that part about the fire hose in a literal kind of way.
Sure, the annual Street Walk means there will be no cars on Detroit in the heart of Lakewood. And dozens of organizations will come out to play. You can ride your bike down, or just walk. You’ll see.
The Lakewood Outdoor Basketball Committee will bring their hoops, and Beck Center for the Arts will set up an acre or so of sidewalk chalk drawing, and the Lakewood Skaters Association will bring their skateboards. You should bring yours too, and join in the fun.
But I’m here to tell you to wear your swim suit.
That’s because Street Walk 2011 gives me the pleasure of unveiling an exotic convolution of PVC and brass plumbing that will channel the full force and excitement of a Lakewood fire hydrant into a portable sprinkler park. I made it myself.
You heard it: a sprinkler park on Detroit Avenue. Be there.
The seed of the idea was planted in a meeting, when Lakewood Alive’s Shannon Strachan shared a story of how some folks had cooled runners during a race by running garden hoses from their houses to sprinklers along the route.
“What if we could set up an entire grid of sprinklers, and power it with a fire hydrant,” I said. “Hmmm.”
And so the scheming began.
After a disappointing trial using a standard-issue fire hydrant attachment known as a “reducer,” we determined that we were not interested in “reducing” the flow of water at all: We wanted fire hose volume. We wanted enough aquatic force to shoot a stream from Birdtown to Rocky River, or maybe even Westlake. So I began to visit plumbing and industrial supply shops.
Weeks later, the Water Moose was born. My friend Jamie gets credit for the name. This irrigation system, he noted, seems to have antlers.
Beta testing was highly successful.
With the cooperation of Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers and parks department unit manager Kurt Matej, my testing crew met at Lakewood Park. The testing crew consisted of me and my fearless daughter Grace, with Mr. Matej for adult supervision.
I should note that I’ve also had significant support from Lakewood Hardware (hoses, sprinklers, and a general appreciation for this kind of rigged-up invention) and the City of Lakewood (permission, technical support) and Lakewood Alive (financial assistance: fittings and valves fit for fire hydrants don’t come cheap).
We connected the pipes to the fire hydrant. We hooked up pipes to the hoses, and the hoses to the sprinklers. And we opened up a couple of two–inch, full-port ball valves.
I am not going to tell you anything more about the experience, except to say that running a fire hydrant’s worth of water through lawn sprinklers can have a stimulating effect on a summer afternoon. You have got to see this for yourself.
Lakewood Alive StreetWalk is Saturday, July 23, 2011 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Detroit Avenue in Downtown Lakewood. The Water Moose Portable Sprinkler Park will blast the heat right off of anyone close to the intersection of Detroit and Andrews.