FREEPORT — Amid picture perfect weather, and against the backdrop of historic downtown Freeport, the streets were a hive of activity on Saturday during the annual Paint the Port, which saw artists paint 265 squares on city streets.

The 4-foot-by-4-foot, socially distanced squares brought families, clubs and other organizations together for an event that raises money for façade improvements at downtown businesses. The city of Freeport matches each dollar raised with $2, generating about $10,000 each year.

The brains behind the event is Katie Ludwig, who partners with the Freeport Art Museum to pull it off. Ludwig said organizers took steps to make sure the event was safe by, for instance, adding streets to make sure the squares were socially distanced.

Even though there were fewer squares — there were 350 squares last year — Ludwig said the event was a success, thanks to perfect weather and people eager to be outdoors after months of at home. She is hoping to expand to 500 squares next year year if things get back to normal.

“The art is incredible. Everyone is an artist and we have very talented people in the community,” Ludwig said. Participants were able to use five basic colors, and many lay in the street as they worked on their creations.

“This is a community event, and with the art left in the streets, it draws people to downtown,” she said. “What I love even more is seeing the community come together, the smiles and pure joy in the expressions of kids. Family fun is important.”

The family fun is exactly what Sarah Berning of Freeport was having with her daughters, Elora and Selah. The trio sat next to the square they purchased while adding color to Chicago Avenue.

Young Elora took the fun to the next level as she sat in the middle of the wet paint while painting her own arm with red paint.

Laughing as she looked at her daughter, Sarah said: “This is her creative outlet, and even with paint all over her body, I just can’t bring myself to stifle her creativity. We came as a family to express ourselves on the streets, to add color, and just have fun.”

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