Known as one of the Bay Area's biggest and best block parties, Sunday’s Solano Stroll is expected to draw 150,000 strollers to Albany for a day of food, fun and wholehearted fulfillment.
The event comes just three days before the one-year anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11 – a once inconspicuous date marked by the end of lazy summer.
Event organizer Lisa Bullwinkel said that Sunday’s Solano Stroll will open itself up to the tragic day.
This year’s theme – the making of origami cranes, a Japanese tradition of sending wishes for peace – was inspired by a Sept. 11 memorial that Bullwinkel came across during a trip to New York’s Ground Zero last Christmas.
Bullwinkel was impressed by the colorful peace cranes attached to the memorial fence around the site. She immediately thought of bringing the concept home.
“They're a perfect symbol and graphically beautiful,” she said. “Our idea is that everyone at the stroll will be decorating with the cranes – crane puppets, hats, booths, clothes.”
Origami cranes as a form of calming began in Hiroshima, Japan, when a child injured from nuclear radiation made 1,000 origami paper birds with a wish that they would bring healing and peace.
Alison Tully, with the Beacon School in Oakland, said local students have been working diligently to prepare birds for the festival.
“They love origami, they could make them forever,” she said. “There's no cutting, pasting or drawing and you end up with a functional dimensional object,” Tully said.
“It's a positive way to approach past events and give thanks to people who acted heroically, so to not dwell on the sadness, but on the positive,” she added.
There will be three grand marshals at this year’s Solano Stroll parade, including former Berkeley police Chief Dash Butler, who retired this summer after 28 years of service.
Berkeley firefighter Darren Brobosky and his German Shepard rescue-dog Dylan are the other two leaders. Both Brobosky and Dylan served at Ground Zero.
The trio will ride an antique fire engine at the parade’s kick-off at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Colusa and Solano avenues.
A lineup of performers and activities are also planned: stilt walkers, face painters, horses, art cars, carnival games, Kidtown, Teentown, belly dancers and more than 75 entertainers, 50 food booths, 100 crafts and 200 community organizations.
The day begins at 8 a.m. with the traditional pancake breakfast at Veterans’ Memorial Park. Stroll booths open at 10 a.m. Madame Ovary uses egg puppets, puns and performances in a show for all ages which she calls, “an all day grazing thing, a movable feast.”
Free shuttles are scheduled to run from the North Berkeley BART station and along the parallel Marin Avenue.
For more information visit: www.solanostroll.org.