UPTOWN — On a quiet residential side street in Uptown lives the “Land of Make Believe.”
Or at least that’s what the neighbors of the condo building at 908 W. Agatite Ave. are calling their elaborately decked-out courtyard.
About 40 inflatable lawn decorations cover the building’s courtyard, with everything from a pride-flag-wearing monkey, Christmas-themed dinosaurs and a unicorn field on the lawn. Neighbors also strung lights, flags and lanterns between their balconies and put out a bubble machine to add to the setting’s whimsy.
The decorated courtyard is a byproduct of coronavirus and the neighbors’ response to the pandemic. During the city’s stay at home order in April, building residents began hosting weekly happy hours from their balconies and the courtyard, said David Geranen, a resident of the building on Agatite.
Geranen bought a large unicorn inflatable to spruce up the setting of their happy hours. Neighbors began adding their own inflatables until the courtyard became what it is today.
“It just gradually happened,” said Geranen, who has lived in the condo building with his husband since 2016. “It was something to lighten the mood and something to keep us company during happy hour.”
Decorating the courtyard is not entirely new to the residents. The building has housed seasonal decorations and this year had a fairly large Christmas in July setup.
The “Land of Make Believe” is only slightly more ornate than previous displays, Geranen said.
“The sense of community we’ve gotten since COVID has been so much greater than we had before,” he said. “It’s been really cool getting to know the neighbors more.”
There’s an exotic animal savanna, with inflatable flamingos, a giraffe, tiger and zebra. A sombrero and lei-wearing cat shares space with dinosaurs romping with Christmas presents. One side of the courtyard has an ocean theme.
There’s even a cannabis leaf inflatable. Garden signs throughout the courtyard identify the display or nearby plants, with this one reading “some kinda exotic cactus or something.”
The courtyard was improved by donated patio chairs and side tables, and a pillow that was on sale, Geranen said. The pillow’s text, “Land of Make Believe,” was the inspiration for the courtyard’s theme.
The building participated in last week’s Uptown Art Weekend, where residents could come over and check out the courtyard. Passersby have also stopped to gawk at the decorations from behind the building’s security fence.
The building residents are glad the courtyard project has brought them closer together while being able to make the public smile during a challenging time.
“We’ve been through a lot of hard times,” Geranen said. “It’s pretty unique. There aren’t too many opportunities for small joy.”
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