City Councilman Jim Eister and his dog, Gizmo, were using the new $2.14 million walkway between the brooding brown floodwall and the well-traveled Front Street thoroughfare in Sunbury when Eister told a newspaper reporter that he and Gizmo planned to make a regular thing of it.
Gizmo, it turned out, was something of a trendsetter. No, not simply because he likes to walk. Dogs, we know, love to walk. For them, it is about energy release and sniffing out data. It doesn't matter much where.
But Gizmo was on the cutting edge of the activity that dominates the nearly completed and often remarked-upon Pedestrian Trail Enhancement Project.
On any given day, one in every three users has been a dog. Based on irregular observation among drive-by commuters (in other words, no basis at all really), the canine ratio can shoot toward one out of every two users during certain hours of the week.
It is grand that dogs use the wide, smooth concrete surface that stretches from Race Street south to just beyond the Hopper Pump Station. It is grander yet that they leave us so little trace of their enjoyment.
There is no apparent human reason to visit either end of what has been dubbed "the sidewalk to nowhere," a fact that lends credence to the theory that the pedestrians for whom the trail was enhanced were not species-specific.
The 66 lampposts and 11,400 watts of nighttime illumination seemed designed for people, but dogs, too, like lampposts and are game to go for a walk at all hours of the night.
If past is prelude, Sunbury may want to capitalize on the nature of things here, declare itself "Dog City USA," and invite the four-legged world to a regular spin up and down Gizmo Park. There are worse ideas.
And there may yet be better ideas. Right now, there are very few widely publicized ideas. We -- all of us -- can change that. If it is going to fulfill its potential, Sunbury should be able to list 100 things to do in Gizmo Park. Dog walking can be No. 1. Now, about those 99 others. . . .
What are your best uses for:
• a mile-long length of smooth ground-level concrete sidewalk variously 8 feet or 6 feet wide,
• an imposing wall that rises to 8 feet for most of its length
• up to 14 hours and 46 minutes of controlled daily illumination, depending on the time of year.
What can we do with all that? The possibilities are endlessly imaginable.
2. Speed racers. Skates, scooters, bikes, go-carts. There is passing room at even the narrowest points for all these wheels. But timed races work as well, if we want to avoid collisions.
3. A Mother's Day mother-child look-alike contest in which new moms push strollers before a viewing stand of judges who award prizes for the most identical features.
4. Giant-step contests. End-to-end there are 3,696 steps according to one pedometer (mine, but I wander). How about prizes for the person who can do the distances with the least number of landings,
5. A Snake Plissken "break-in/break-out" relay. Teams of eight line up on both sides of the wall at midnight. On a given signal, referees hit the lights for 45 seconds. The goal is to see which team can get the most members to the opposite side of the wall before the lights come back on.
OK, then. Just 95 ideas to go. Let's make this is a reader participation feature. Send your best notions to Go Gizmo Park care of The Daily Item or just e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can make this work, people.
• Gary Grossman is publisher of The Daily Item and The Danville News.