Alien Landscapes: Color Run Cleanup

Peak of PPG Place seen through a cloud of yellow dust, Pittsburgh, PA

These colors don’t run…but they may blow away in the wind

You’ve seen them–heck, maybe you’ve been them. (Generally) young people in sunglasses and jogging outfits with wild random splashes of color criss-crossing the full lengths of their persons. Nothing is spared–clothing, exposed skin, face, and hair have all been haphazardly doused in iridescent blasts of paint dust. They’re on foot, winded, giddy, and/or dazed–appearing as if recently exposed to supernatural radiation or looped on a new dancehall hallucinogenic.

yellow dust covering street and sidewalks, Pittsburgh, PA

Yellow brick (err…cement) road (and sidewalks)

The Orbit has no idea what “The Color Run” is all about*–we stopped following trends after opening the closet to a wardrobe full of acid wash. What we can say is that it’s some kind of well-organized group event** that involves throbbing disco music, inflatable rainbow-shaped arches, many bold statements suggesting–perhaps, demanding–participants be HAPPY, and yes, lots and lots of deeply-hued paint dust.

Whateverthehell these folks are doing, I’ll tell you one thing: accidentally running into the Color Run aftermath is bizarre…and it’s a hoot.

orange dust covering sidewalk and bushes

Planet Orange

Streets of gold! Phosphorescent shrubbery! Day-glo pavement! Bike trail loose gravel mixed with electric blue dye and formerly hum-drum parking spots tattooed in technicolor. For one, brief, shining post-Color Run moment, the general area of the near North Side, around the stadiums and those new office buildings, was transformed into a Star Trek set, a fever dream, a visionary environment, an alien landscape. The future really is here right now…or it at least it was last Saturday.

man pushing an electric blower kicking up yellow dust from The Color Run, Pittsburgh, PA

Spell-caster/dream-maker/Color Run cleanup crew member

When the big custom sweeper/blower machine rolled through, I couldn’t race fast enough to catch the billowing clouds of bright yellow dust filling the sky and temporarily blocking out everything in sight. A couple decent shots with downtown Pittsburgh nearly enveloped and then it all disappeared in the wind as fast as it had flown up. The Orbit‘s only regret is that we didn’t make it around to the other discarded dust patches in time to collect the whole color set. We’ll not make that mistake next time.

wooden letters that spell HAPPY, seen from behind

They even have their own language. YPPAH.


* Yes, we are well-equipped to Google “the color run,” but Orbit readers have come to expect a level of “speculative journalism” that doesn’t weigh the reader down with undue facts or research.
** The trucks packing up in the parking lot all had Salt Lake City, Utah addresses on them, so we assume this is some kind of franchised, touring operation.

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