It's just another Saturday afternoon downtown - stilt walkers and street magicians on one block, a Celtic band on another and a Latin and jazz band on the next.
The entertainment is courtesy of Sidewalk Stage, a new street performance program sponsored by the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs.
T.R. Price is an 18-year-old stilt walker from Salida. He just finished his freshman year at Fort Lewis College, where he's studying environmental science. When he's not on stilts performing in The Salida Circus, he also does a nail bed act. And, if he feels inspired this afternoon, he might get off the stilts and drive some nails into his skull for the passers-by.
In the meantime, his shimmery blue pants are about 6 feet long and hide the stilts he's perched on. He teeters up and down in front of Zeezo's on Tejon Street, chatting up the people milling from store to store. A gaggle of 20-something guys strolls down the sidewalk and briefly harasses him. They want to know if he can dance and twirl, to which he bluntly says, "No."
The question he hears most frequently?
"How often do you fall?" he says.
His answer: "I've only fallen in love."
A sword balancer, spoken word performer, belly dancer and four-piece, acoustic, all-children bluegrass band are all part of the program that runs Thursdays-Saturdays through Aug. 17 at seven downtown locations. A full schedule can be found online.
"It brings a positive street-level experience to people who are downtown," says Laurel Prud'homme, director of communications for the Downtown Partnership.
"We know that when we bring positive and engaging activities to the streets, it enhances the vibrancy of downtown. Other cities have been successful at programs like this, and it's been shown to bring additional foot traffic to downtown businesses."
Out of 35 applicants, 25 were selected by a jury that included Scott RC Levy, artistic director at the Fine Arts Center; local musician Jason Bennett; Lara Garritano, creative district manager for the Downtown Partnership; and Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership.
The program is funded through corporate sponsorships and individual donors.
Most of the performers will strut their stuff on two different dates, and all are paid. They don't solicit for tips or hawk T-shirts or CDs, says Prud'homme.
"They are here to provide a little glimpse of something fun going on downtown," she says. "I was at Acacia Park on Saturday, and one man said to me, 'You just never know what you're going to see downtown.' That's exactly why we're doing it."
Jennifer Mulson can be reached at 636-0270.
When: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursdays, 4-7 p.m. Fridays, noon-3 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 17
Where: Seven locations downtown
Tickets: Free; 886-0088, downtowncs.com