About the same time as Jennifer Mason moved from part-time to full-time in her role as clerk of council, she embarked on what would become a new hobby: stilting.
More than two years later, Mason still is working for the city and her stilt-walking talent has led to performances at Easton Town Center and New Albany Founders Day.
Mason will be head and shoulders above the crowd again in New Albany's Independence Day parade, during which she will perform alongside fellow members of the Amazing Giants. The performance group members are known for stilt walking, hoop dancing and acrobatics.
The parade will begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 4, at New Albany Middle School, 6600 E. Dublin-Granville Road.
Although stilting might seem like an extreme sport to some, Mason has made it a point to seek out physically demanding hobbies.
The 44-year-old Columbus resident has been a member of the Columbus Curling Club for about 10 years; she said the sport takes core strength and balance.
She also does acroyoga, which linked her to stilting when, in January 2016, she and other acroyoga classmates attended a stilting class at Whetstone Park in Clintonville.
Mason said she overcame initial anxiety and was confident in the stilts after a couple minutes. She began by walking close to the walls, then -- like a kid at an ice-skating rink, she said -- she became brave enough to walk across the room.
Jessica Minshall, founder of the Amazing Giants, said she remembers Mason being successful within a few minutes during that first class.
"She did really well pretty quickly," Minshall said.
Now Mason -- who is no stranger to performing, having participated in musicals in high school and grade school -- dons her stilts as part of the outfit.
Mason began performing with the Amazing Giants in August 2016.
Minshall said Mason has improved significantly as a performer and among 35 employees of the performance group.
The Amazing Giants feature about 40 other contracted entertainers, Minshall said, and they perform in street fairs, festivals, parades, holiday events and at malls. For example, Minshall and fellow stilter Victoria Woods appeared June 21 at the grand opening of the new Hilliard branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, and Mason appeared June 23 at Easton Town Center's arts festival.
Stilting takes a strong core, Mason said, and a healthy relationship with heights because stilts typically are 30 to 36 inches high.
Mason's stilts are aluminum and she has tennis shoes that she drilled into the stilts to ensure she has proper foot placement. Incorrect foot placement on stilts, she said, could cause shin or calf fatigue.
Once on the stilts, Mason said, she can do quite a bit, including high kicks.
"It's a lot of fun to dance in stilts," she said.
Mason said she also enjoys the people for whom she performs.
Children slowly gain the courage to give her high-fives, she said, and teens giggle with friends while watching but eventually ask for selfies with her.
Being up on stilts is exciting, Mason said, and she likes knowing she has made someone's day.
"You can't stop me from smiling once I go up," she said.