Page One

‘Car Free’ Day Parade Features Art Cars

Friday September 17, 2004

The ninth-annual How Berkeley Can You Be? Parade and Festival will run in conjunction with the city’s first Car Free Day on Sunday. 

The parade, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will begin at University Avenue and Sacramento Street and wind through downtown to Civic Center Park. The festival, which runs from 12:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. in the park, will have live music, dancing, food booths and children’s activities. 

The parade’s theme this year is “Loco-motion” and will feature alternative ways to get around other than cars, including roller-skates, solar-powered skateboards, electric go-carts and a fuel cell bus. 

To accommodate the parade and encourage people to go “car free” for the day, the festival will include expanded street closures downtown (see map). 

Karen Hester, co-coordinator, said the How Berkeley Can You Be? Festival, will showcase the best of the city as well as showing its sense of humor. 

“It’s going to be bigger and wackier and more irreverent than ever,” she said. “It’s to celebrate the creativity and diversity of Berkeley and really it’s a chance to laugh at ourselves a little.” 

International Car Free Day, which began in 1997 in La Rochelle, France, now includes about 1,500 towns in 40 countries, according to the Berkeley’s event organizers. The day was designed to encourage people to think about transportation options. 

“There’s a reason why people make fun of Berkeley,” Hester said. “It’s because the city does things that people respond to and end up adopting, like curb side recycling, we were the first to do that. And now with Car Free Day, I’m sure it will raise eyebrows and provoke laughs, but 10 years from now it will be a Bay Area phenomena.” 

But not all cars will be unwelcome at the parade. As always, the tail end of the parade will feature a contingent of art cars from the Bay Area Art Car Fest, which traditionally wraps up its annual three-day event with the Berkeley parade, said Justin Katz, one of the organizers of the Berkeley festival. 

“The parade has a long history of working with the Art Car Fest as well as we wanted to work with city of Berkeley this year to promote Car Free Day,” Katz said. “At first it may seem irreconcilable, but another way to look at it is as promoting various forms of alternative vehicles. I like to say that I hope one day the only cars will be art.” 

In the parade Katz will be driving his own art car—a 29-foot-wide, nine-foot-long bat car, with wings powered by bicycle wheels—towing a vegetable oil generator which will be powering a funk band playing on top of an attached float.@