If Kaisean Mosesle felt any fear when Scott Petersen, the Reptile Man, wrapped the hefty boa constructor around his 9-year-old waist Saturday afternoon on Tacoma’s Broadway Plaza, his face didn’t signal it.
The snake, as big around as a fire hose, kills its prey by squeezing it. But Mosesle said the snake’s embrace was gentle.
“He was barely squeezing me,” said a still-excited Mosesle after the performance.
The boy, a volunteer plucked from the crowd, and the snake, part of the Reptile Man’s reptile repertoire, were part of a broad range of arts and entertainment in the Broadway Center’s Fall Free-for-All community arts festival on a sun-warmed Saturday afternoon downtown.
The festival, which continues Sunday, is designed to give the Broadway Center’s owners, the public, an eclectic taste of art from film to dance, from ukeleles to flea circuses, said Broadway Center Executive Director David Fischer.
Two of the Broadway Center’s major venues, the Pantages Theater and the Theatre on the Square, as well as outdoor space along Broadway Plaza and several studios and rehearsal spaces are part of the weekend festivities.
On Broadway, for instance, Fab 5 graffiti artist David Long was giving a friend’s older Kia Sephia a unique paint job.
That friend left only the most general instructions, Long said. “She said she wanted colors.”
And colors were what the car was getting. Its formerly off-white body had become a canvas for a variety of geometric shapes done in colors as varied as electric blue and desert sand. It was as if the car had been painted in a camouflage scheme made for the colorful board game Candy Land.
“I didn’t do a sketch first. It’s all improvisation,” Long said. Will his friend like the result?
“I think she will. She’s seen my work before,” he said.
One of the favorite attractions, a face-painting booth, attracted a queue of kids and their parents. Headed for that booth was 2-year-old Jazzy Stewart.
Would the toddler like having her face decorated? Her mother wasn’t sure.
“If she doesn’t she’ll let them know,” said her mother, Venus. “She’s pretty tough about that.”
Meanwhile down the street, a crew from Tacoma Community College led by art instructor Kyle Dillehay donned thick leather aprons, protective gloves and masks to feed chunks of broken cast iron bathtubs and sinks into a refrigerator-sized furnace spewing flame from its top like a runaway volcano.
The furnace, fueled by propane and coke derived from coal, melts the scrap iron at temperatures ranging from 2,500 to 2,600 degrees.
When the iron was liquid, it was poured into a ladle, then into sand molds carved with designs made by Fall Free-for-All patrons. Given about 30 minutes to cool, the finished product was a tile-like iron ingot decorated with the fesitival-goers’ custom designs.
The larger venues were home to performance troupes such as Recess Monkey, a group of musically talented elementary schoolteachers that was a kids’ favorite.
Saturday evening, Tacoma’s own Vicci Martinez, third-place winner on last year’s TV reality show "The Voice," was scheduled to perform before a Pantages audience.
To enter the venues to watch the shows, Free-for-All participants need an identifying bracelet obtained at the Pantages box office. Fill out a form with your name and email address and you get a bracelet.
The shows go on again beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Fischer said he expects the arts event will attract some 7,500 people this year.