Neighbors Mara Fivecoate and Audrey Miller slowly weaved reeds together Wednesday – in and out, in and out.
They repeated this pattern over and over. Slowly, their baskets started to take shape.
All around them, hundreds of other children raced around Highland Park making candles, tie-dying T-shirts, splattering hats with paint or playing games.
It was the annual Craft Fest at the park – the busiest day of the Kokomo Parks Department Recreation Adventure program.
For as little as 50 cents, kids could learn how to make candles or create their own coin purses or sand art necklaces.
It was the perfect event for Fivecoate, 12, and Miller, 11, who live right by each other and work on art projects together all of the time.
“We do all kinds of crafts together,” Miller said. “I’m just like my mom. I love to paint. I was painting before I came here. I was painting a jewelry box for my little sister.”
She held her hands up to prove it. She had splatters of green and blue paint all the way up her arms.
Miller added to that as she splattered a hat with paint during Craft Fest.
Kokomo Parks Department Program Director Debbie Greene said the paint splatter is always a popular craft. Kids love the mess, she said with a laugh.
They also love the candle walk. More than a dozen children Wednesday morning circled around a closed-off fire pit dipping their candle wicks in hot, melted wax and immediately soaking it in water before waiting in line to do it all over again.
The group had made more than 10 laps. They were trying to build up the wax to form their candles.
“The secret is dipping it quickly so you don’t melt off what you already have,” Greene said. “The candle walk takes patience, but it’s something they don’t usually get to do.”
Greene looked up to the sky Wednesday and prayed the sun would come out and the rain would hold off. She really wanted to break the attendance record set two years ago when about 800 children came out for crafts in the park.
Every year, several day cares bring large groups of children and help boost those numbers, Greene said. This year was no different. Less than an hour after the event started, three day cares with about 50 kids showed up.
Among them were the kids of Crossroads Learning Corner.
“They love to come do this,” said Mary Baker, who brought the group out. “We let them have fun.”
Greene stood in the park and watched as kids moved from one craft to the next. She couldn’t think of a better job, she said.
“You can’t have a better job than being out in these beautiful parks and working with kids,” she said.