For as long as anyone can remember, boys and girls have sold (and bought) friendship bracelets at the Festival’s Children and Youth Sidewalk Sale. They’re inexpensive, easy to make, and each one is as unique as the person who made it. For many, they’re a fun reminder of the summer. If you’re old like me, they’re a reminder of simpler times: record stores that smelled like patchouli, cute surfer boys and girls at the Jersey Shore, and my college roommate – the Grateful Dead devotee.
Since I’ve been the Festival director, I make it a point to buy friendship bracelets from young artists in the Children and Youth Sidewalk Sale to give to my coworkers. Those simple circles of string are symbols of the creativity and optimism of our young artists.
Friendship bracelets also remind us of how connected we are and how important our friends are. While you can make a bracelet by yourself, it’s difficult to tie it on your own wrist. Having a friend do that makes life so much easier.
This year, even though we can’t gather in person, we want to continue the Festival’s friendship bracelet tradition.
We’re asking boys and girls (of all ages!) to make friendship bracelets between now and the beginning of July. We’d like folks to give some of them to key people in their lives during our time of sheltering in place: teachers, grandparents, best friends, and so on. In other words, people a therapist might call your “support system.”
We’d like everyone to give their remaining bracelets to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. We’ll sell them for a modest price at local stores to help support the Festival. We want to make sure that there is a Festival when we can all safely gather together again on South Allen Street.
Our goal is to collect 10,000 friendship bracelets. But wouldn’t it be cool if we to surpassed that goal?
Each person who donates at least 5 bracelets to the Festival by July 1 will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to Downtown State College once for every five bracelets they donate. So, if someone donates 10 bracelets, that’s two entries; 25 bracelets means five entries. There is no limit to the number of bracelets you can donate. We will choose two winners in this drawing.
Mail those bracelets to: Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, P.O. Box 1023, State College, PA 16804.
For the bracelets you give away, we’d like to see who wears those bracelets. We’d like our bracelet makers to send us photos of their friends holding their hand over their heart so that we can see not only your friend’s face, but also the bracelet on their wrist. Our goal is to get people in all 50 states wearing them.
Please email those photos to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject line of your email should be Tying Us Together Photo. Tell us the person’s first name, and the state they live in. If you want to tell us they’re your cousin, grandma, pen pal, or whatever, that would be great too.
Each person who sends us more than one photo of someone wearing your bracelet will get one entry in a random drawing for a $50 Downtown State College gift card. If you’re the first person to send a photo of someone in any particular state, we’ll give you an extra chance in the drawing. We’ll keep you updated via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on what states are covered. By sending us a photo, you’re giving us permission to share it on our website and on social media. We’ll select two $50 winners in the photo drawing.
If you need help getting started, we’ve got you covered. Thanks to our friends at The Makery, you can download some instructions for making a simple bracelet here, and you can watch a brief video here. The Festival has created a small number of kits containing not only string but also simple instructions. Those kits are free and are available at the following locations:
- Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, 403 S. Allen St., Suite 205A
- The Makery, 209 W Calder Way, State College
- State College Framing Company & Gallery, 160 Rolling Ridge Dr., State College
- Art a la Carte, 107 S. Allegheny St., Bellefonte
Please don’t be limited by our kits and our instructions. There are lots of different ways to create friendship bracelets—and you can find all of those online. Embroidery floss and string are readily available at craft stores and online. And you might even have some at home. Make as many bracelets as you can in as many styles as you like.
I’m looking forward to seeing friendship bracelets on wrists all over town, and in photos taken all over the country.
COVID-19 may be keeping us apart, but the bonds of love and friendship tie us together. It has been proven time and time again that those bonds are the strongest the earth has ever known. Making – and wearing – friendship bracelets will help us strengthen those bonds.