INNISFAIL – When the idea came to local artist Karen Scarlett to bring the community together by creating crocheted hearts, she envisioned 200 could be made locally.
She was wrong.
More than 3,000 were created, and they came from all over Canada, and even internationally.
The hearts were made by the young and the old, and everyone in between.
“I've heard many more are coming, hundreds more at least,” said Scarlett, who came up with the idea early in the new year. “My first thought was, ‘let's just add some joy and love to town.
“And I thought, ‘you know, the seniors have been in Autumn Grove and stuck there for almost three years and being very unconnected to people, shut away,” she added. “Wouldn't it be perfect to show them they're cared about by the community, right?”
In partnership with the Innisfail Welcoming & Inclusive Community Committee and the Innisfail Art Club, Scarlett created the Crochet Heart Bomb Project.
On June 3 scores of Innisfailians and out-of-towners arrived to Autumn Grove to celebrate the magic and wonder of the heart language; to offer a unique message of love to the community – especially for seniors and the vulnerable.
The Crochet Heart Bomb Project Party, which also included music from the Innisfail High School Band and a barbecue hosted by FortisAlberta, ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The party began with an opening speech from Mayor Jean Barclay, who said the event was an example of “community and capacity”; people in the community taking on initiatives that bring the community together for the betterment of all.
On the north side of the new well-groomed lawns of Autumn Grove, a large table was set up to sort out hundreds of donated crocheted hearts, which were soon clipped on the chain link fence surrounding the seniors facility.
Local citizens of all ages took part, including many children, as did Autumn Grove residents and patients convalescing next door at the Innisfail Health Centre.
“I made about 50 I’m guessing. It was definitely long past 30 when I quit counting,” said Elaine Brown, who is a resident at Autumn Grove with her husband Bob.
What was extra special for Elaine and Bob was that their family of 11 came to Innisfail from as far away as Italy, Vancouver and Oregon to honour the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary.
“It was just a bonus thing that this happened when they're here. It was a wonderful idea,” said Elaine.
Charlene Thomas, a Red Deer County resident, describes herself as a crafter and community supporter. She created more than 200 crocheted hearts for the party.
“Karen has put her community in the provincial spotlight,” said Thomas. “This event embraces community participation and community spirit. That's what we all need.”
At 1 p.m. the Foothills Centennial Fiddlers tuned up to offer their brand of old-time music.
On the other side of the chain link fence, hospital patients and residents came out to watch, listen and participate with their own crocheted hearts.
“Thank you very much for allowing us to come out and hear the music. We're helping to put the hearts on the fence,” said Marilyn Dedeles, an acute care patient who was joined by fellow resident Edith Peoples. “It’s great to get fresh air on this beautiful Saturday, and to hear the music.”
As the fiddlers played, all eyes were on the outdoor dance floor.
Elaine and Bob Brown got up and danced; surrounded by a kaleidoscopic array of thousands of shimmering hearts.