Bye gum! Icky sticky tourist at­trac­tion to be scrubbed clean

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD - TIM WALKER

SEAT­TLE: You could call it lo­cal flavour, but you prob­a­bly wouldn’t want to taste it. Seat­tle’s least likely tourist at­trac­tion, the so-called “Mar­ket Theatre Gum Wall” – a brick wall smoth­ered in up to a mil­lion mul­ti­coloured gob­bets of chewed gum – is to be scrubbed clean for the first time in two decades.

Part in­ter­ac­tive art ex­hibit, part pub­lic health hazard, the Gum Wall has be­come a dan­ger to it­self, as the sugar in the gum has re­port­edly be­gun to erode the bricks be­neath.

Ac­cord­ing to leg­end, the Gum Wall first squelched into ex­is­tence around 1993, when pa­trons of the Mar­ket Theatre’s im­prov com­edy group, Un­ex­pected Pro­duc­tions, be­gan stick­ing their used gum to the bricks as they queued for late-night shows in Post Al­ley, be­neath the city’s Pike Place Mar­ket.

The Gum Wall has since grown to 2.4m high and more than 15m wide, sport­ing an es­ti­mated 150 pieces of gum per brick, some of them decades old and cen­time­tres thick. Strings of gum dangle from sills like snot from a nos­tril. Some more cre­ative chew­ers have fash­ioned pat­terns and de­signs.

The Pike Place Mar­ket Preser­va­tion and De­vel­op­ment Author­ity is­sued a news re­lease say­ing the wall would be steam-blasted clean start­ing on Tues­day. The clean­ing process is ex­pected to take sev­eral days.

The wall has been par­tially scrubbed three times be­fore, but this will be its first deep clean in 20 years. “Just like you, all that sugar can re­ally mess up the sur­face of your bricks, er, teeth,” read a post from the Gum Wall on the Mar­ket’s Face­book page. “I have to ad­mit, af­ter 20 years, I’m feel­ing a lit­tle icky, sticky and in des­per­ate need of a good scrub­bing to make me sparkle again.”

Clean freaks were shocked in 1999 when Seat­tle author­i­ties of­fi­cially de­clared the Gum Wall a lo­cal at­trac­tion. In a 2009 TripAd­vi­sor sur­vey, it was named the world’s sec­ondger­mi­est sight, be­hind Cork’s much- kissed Blar­ney Stone, and ahead of the pi­geon­in­fested St Mark’s Square in Venice.

The wall has been tagged some 80 000 times on Insta- gram. Kolleen W, a Yelp re­viewer from New Jer­sey who gave the Gum Wall a five-star rat­ing, wrote on the rec­om­men­da­tion site: “Re­mem­ber to bring some colour­ful gum, your cam­era, and some hand sani­tiser.”

To en­cour­age fans of the wall to memo­ri­alise it one more time, the mar­ket is hold­ing a photo con­test, invit­ing am­a­teur snap­pers to up­load their best shots of the bizarre land­mark to its Face­book page. Of­fi­cials have also said they fully ex­pect the Gum Wall to be recre­ated again af­ter the clean­ing.

The Gum Wall is not the only such at­trac­tion on the US West Coast. “Bub­blegum Al­ley” in San Luis Obispo, Cal­i­for­nia is a 4.5m-high and 21.3mlong al­ley­way plas­tered with gum on both sides. – The In­de­pen­dent

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.