German Village Gazette

Tiny Doors open big windows to imagination, officials say

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Local artist Todd Camp created this piece in Schiller Park for the Tiny Doors campaign, a national effort sponsored by Keebler, the cookie company based in Battlecreek, Mich.

No, the squirrels in Schiller Park have not become handier with tools.

The miniature doors at the bottom of two trees in the German Village park were installed by local artists participating in Tiny Doors, a program sponsored by Keebler, the Battle Creek, Mich.,-based company known as much for its cookies as its pitchman, a cheerful elf.

One door is located south of the Umbrella Girl fountain and the other is along Rinehart Avenue where Lazelle Street dead-ends into the park.

Terri Leist, assistant director of Columbus Recreation and Parks, said Keebler donated $5,000 to the department's play fund, which allows kids to apply for scholarship for fee-based activities.

Leist said as long as the trees weren't altered -- the doors are attached to the ground -- officials were happy to participate.

"We thought it was a good idea," she said. "We thought it was a fun idea."

The program is in its second year, but it's the first time in Columbus.

The doors open but there are no treats involved, other than the gift of imagination.

Two doors are located in Whetstone Park and one in Bicentennial Park. The doors will be in place until September.

Five local artists -- Todd Camp, Eric Rausch, Maria DiFranco, Abel Hernandez and Kenny Cramer -- created individual pieces in the parks. Both Camp and Cramer completed the tiny doors in Schiller.

Camp said each artists was given a set of criteria; for example, the doors couldn't be attached to the tree and had to be made of wood or have the appearance of wood but not be made of metal.

"It was pretty wide open and there were some things they didn't want, like brightly colored doors or anything that was modern," said Camp, an assistant arts administrator at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center.

"It had to look like it fit in the tree," he said. "You had to put yourself in the place of an elf. I was able to put myself in that position pretty easily.

"It was actually one of the most interesting projects I've done for many years," he said. "I think the concept is interesting, too."

The specific trees locations chosen because of the large, naturally formed crooks at the bottom of the trees, said Katharine Moore, president of Friends of Schiller Park.

Moore said the program is "not just cool, but worth getting excited about it. It's a clever thing and it means some more resources for rec and parks. And it will drive some visitors to the park and maybe look at trees in a different way."

Tiny Doors is part of a national campaign in 21 markets. It's designed to inspire imagination from the perspective of both parents and children, said Colleen Chorak, Keebler senior marketing director for the Kellogg Co, which owns the cookie company.

"Nowadays kids' schedules tend to be heavily structured, leaving less and less time for free play," Chorak said in a prepared statement.

"With Tiny Doors, we want to encourage families to take a break from busy schedules, reconnect with their creative sides and embrace a little elfin magic into their lives."

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