PHILADELPHIA No, there was not a 9,000-strong massacre on JFK Boulevard on Saturday.
The thousands of chalk outlines represented a different kind of tragedy, artists said, one that takes place one day and one victim at a time:
"When you talk to people about gun violence in America . . . it's a large number, but it's a hard number for people to comprehend," said Peter Quinn, the artist behind the project. "The whole idea here is to flesh out this number."
The more than 9,000 outlines being drawn Saturday represented the country's victims of gun violence so far this year. An attempt in May to draw 12,000 outlines for last year's victims was about three-quarters complete before being thwarted by rain.
Quinn was joined by students - he teaches art at Montgomery County Community College as an adjunct - and volunteers Saturday.
Outlines began near 30th Street Station, lining a 10-block stretch of the street to a police barricade. Artists worked in small groups, taking turns lying down and taking swipes with the thick sidewalk chalk.
"At first, it was kind of gross, but you eventually deal with it," said Faith Mohnke, 20, a second-year student in the fine arts program at Montgomery County Community College. "Who cares if you lie on the ground?"
Danielle Goodhart, 21, now a junior at Moore College of Art & Design after earning an associates degree from MCCC, agreed.
"Look at the killing - it's not like a clean killing," Goodhart said, describing the project as raising awareness by increasing empathy for victims' families and friends.
The street was blocked off to cars, but pedestrians trickled through. Some gave a curious glance as they lugged their bags toward the train station.
Gabriel Rybeck, 19, an economics student at Haverford College, stopped to find out what the thousands of outlines meant.
Rybeck had been on his way to meet a friend at the Art Museum but had to stop, he said, because of the "real art right here."
He sprawled out in the middle of the street, began walking away, stopped, and turned - he had time to draw one himself, he said.
"I'm impressed," Rybeck said of the project. "I'm glad I did it."
Several dozen other passersby also contributed throughout the day.
Oliver Gallini, 26, a videographer who was volunteering his time to document the project, said he was shocked to hear gunshots when he moved to the city.
"Thank God I never lost anybody to gun violence," said Gallini, who moved from Italy two years ago. "It's almost like the United States got used to people killing each other."