Chagrin Falls Village Council won’t make it official until Monday, but it looks like “the wild and wacky artist guy” – as one council person described him – will be picked to redesign the new play area in Riverside Park.
His name is Mark Reigelman and he is an artist having graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art. And he is “wild and wacky” in the best sense of the phrase. His public space projects offer unexpected play and explore experiences that engages fun loving adults as well as children.
What makes us think Mr. Reigelman has a lock on the job? Both the Chagrin Falls Parks Commission and the Facilities and Services Committee have given him the thumbs up.
During the video presentation, seen on YouTube, he confesses that he did not know until researching Chagrin Falls that our very own Calvin and Hobbes’ creator Bill Watterson grew up right here in our tiny town.
Mr. Reigelman’s excitement over the news is real and it is a very endearing moment in his presentation, which is still available for viewing on the YouTube page of the Chagrin Falls village website, chagrin-falls.org.
Then he shows the back cover of a Watterson book he owns. You likely know the one, “The Essential Calvin and Hobbes,” and there he is depicted as a Godzilla sized Calvin, tromping through downtown Chagrin Falls holding the Popcorn Shop in his hands having uprooted it from its place on top of the falls.
Flash forward – Mr. Reigelman will invite plenty of input from residents about what they would like to see built in the park.
We here at Window on Main Street think it would be appropriate if the play space featured a mini Calvin and Hobbes sled hill as tribute to the kid, the tiger and the artist that put Chagrin Falls on the map.
Fact: Bill Watterson’s mom and dad, Jim and Kathy Watterson, served the village in so many ways. Jim passed away a few years ago. He is remembered as having served on school board and Village Council. His dry wit found its way into both Calvin and his buddy Hobbes.
Kathy makes her home at South Franklin Circle now but served on Village Council. Her interest and hands-on participation in village beautification were recognized with a garden named in her honor. It sits next to Township Hall across the street from Riverside Park.
What else should the designer know about our town? He says he works from inspiration provided by local lore so he might be surprised to learn Chagrin Falls was home to the late comic Tim Conway.
He was raised a stone’s throw from Riverside Park on East Orange Street and often said he grew up the son of unintentionally funny parents in a funny town with a funny name populated by characters who inspired humor.
Our town inspired a former South Russell kid by the name of Doug Kenney, a founder of the National Lampoon magazine and co-writer on the films “Caddy Shack” and “Animal House.”
He is gone now too, but while he was here, Mr. Kenney never missed a chance to introduce himself as “Doug Kenney from Chagrin Falls,” which is depicted in the 2017 Netflix docudrama, “A Futile and Stupid Gesture.”
All three favorite sons illustrate the theory that growing up in Chagrin Falls takes a sense of humor rooted in the zany.
So, how might Mr. Reigelman add some of the Conway and Kenney humor into his design? Is humor the right tone for our new playground or should he seek inspiration from our dam village history?
No offense meant. Chagrin Falls was home to numerous dams built on the Chagrin River to power early mills that made everything from paper bags to axe handles. Perhaps Mr. Reigelman will add a water wheel to that sled hill.