MORRISON, Ill. — The time is quickly approaching for those in Morrison and the surrounding communities to paint the town.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the first Paint the Town event.

“It's hard to believe that that 15 years has gone by as fast as it has,” said Barbara Bees, co-chairwoman of the Paint the Town event.

Bees said she and many of the other board members and volunteers have worked on the Paint the Town event for many years. She said sponsors and volunteers involved are a large part of the event itself. She said many of the event’s sponsors have been involved for years and are “as much a part of the event as our participants are.”

“It's become an annual event that people look forward to and we're so very happy and so very grateful for all of the people that take part in it, all of our volunteers. Oh, we have, probably on the average of 100 to 150 volunteers every year. And many of them do it every single year,” said Bees.

“Without just this whole dynamic of people and support that comes together, this thing wouldn't happen. So from my perspective, as a co-chairman, looking back at 15 years of doing this event and seeing how it's grown each year, what I see is people that just give so unselfishly of themselves to make it happen and people that come each year and have such a good time,” said Bees.

Bees said the board members also get very excited about the event. She said they all do a great deal of planning to get every detail covered. On the day of the event, many of them may be up as early as 2 or 3 a.m. She said the process can be exhausting.

“It doesn't matter how tired you are. When the people get there and the kids and the families are painting the squares and the music's going, every ounce of exhaustion just leaves. You just get carried by this feeling, this buoyancy that comes from people having just a great time and painting and having fun,” said Bees.

Bees said she feels Paint the Town is a great community event. She said many people, from families and young children to older residents, will come out to add their own artwork to the street. Participants are provided bottles of red, yellow, blue, white and black paint, brushes, a plate for mixing colors, stir sticks and chalk for their artwork.

“I can't think of any place else that people would get permission to paint on the streets,” said Bees. During the event, several bands with be playing and food will be available.

“And it's fun to see what other people are painting, too. As the day moves on, they'll see all the squares around them just begin to explode with images and color,” said Bees, adding, “This literally creates an outdoor art gallery.”

To help celebrate this anniversary, 1,500 spaces will be available to those wishing to participate in the event. Bees said this number was both intentional and a coincidence. Last year, 1,370 squares were registered for the event. Bees said it was pretty easy to increase from that amount to 1,500 squares.

People wanting to register a square to paint can now do so online, as well through the mail or in person. The new Web site, www.paintthetownmorrison.com, opened for business Aug. 18. Bees said people registering online will even be able to specify what section they want to be in. Online registration will be accepted through Sept. 16. People may also pick up registrations at the Morrison City Building and at Morrison schools. Forms may be returned to either location or mailed to Paint the Town, Box 45, Morrison, IL 61270.

The cost for a square is $10 for registrations that are mailed or walked in. Squares that are registered for online will cost $11. Online payments may be made with a debit card, credit card or PayPal account. Walk-in registration on the day of the event is $15.

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