The rhythms of the Kalimba King, the tender mercies of pigeon adoption, Kenny the Clown and Nott the Hoople are just a few of the delights that await at the 46th Solano Avenue Stroll in Berkeley and Albany Sunday.
One of the Bay Area’s oldest and largest street festivals, the event takes place all day Sunday on Solano Avenue between San Pablo Avenue in Albany and The Alameda in Berkeley. A related event described as “Stroll-ish,” with activities and entertainment, will happen Saturday.
Sunday’s event begins at 10 a.m. with a micro parade. The Stroll includes vendors, entertainers, food booths, artists, jewelers, nonprofits, agencies and games. From the sacred to the profane to the simply silly, there’s something to interest almost everyone.
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Speaking of the simply silly, a free-range clown will bring the bubbles Saturday and Sunday, handing out free lollipops and otherwise disporting his 6-feet-4-inch, 275-pound, red-purple-fuchsia-orange-yellow-clown-suit-clad self on the avenue.
“I love the Stroll. Who doesn’t love the Stroll?” said Kenneth Kahn aka Kenny the Clown in an interview.
He’s an Alameda resident and former Bay Area substitute teacher who once ran for mayor of San Francisco, garnering a grand total of three votes, a surprisingly small number given how many of his ilk seem to be holding office these days.
Live musical acts
While Kahn will be pushing his bubble machine up and down Solano Avenue pretty much continuously, the various musical acts are performing at set times. (Details can be found at the solanostroll.org website.) Musicians include indie rock band Raised on TV, Nott the Hoople, a Mott the Hoople cover band, RJae Haas Band and the Kalimba King.
If you’ve never seen a kalimba, they’re generally made of wood and are about the size of a book. The unique instrument is played similarly to how most folks use their phones — with the thumbs, “except it’s the thumbnails,” said Kalimba King Carl Winters of San Francisco, who will be showing how it’s done at the Stroll.
Winters has performed music including gospel, blues and pop on the kalimba all over the country.
Needless to say, street fair fare including kettle corn and pizza will be in the offing at the event, which draws thousands of people from all over the Bay Area. There are plenty of more serious offerings at the event as well.
One example is the group of dedicated volunteers that will be staffing the Palomacy Pigeon and Dove Adoption booth.
Pet adoptions — usual and unusual
While most of us are aware that there are scores of dogs, cats and other more conventional pets available for adoption, the folks from Palomacy say there are domestic, unreleasable pigeons who need adopting as well.
“Here in the Bay Area, there are lots of pigeon racing clubs, fanciers and hobbyists breeding domestic birds. But no one is rescuing the pigeons who get lost or injured,” said Elizabeth Young, the founder and director of the group.
Her organization is out to change that, and is currently offering about 170 domestic, unreleasable pigeons for adoption. Some of them, including Abby and Sprocket, a “married couple,” according to Young, will be available for tete-a-tetes Sunday.
“They make wonderful pets. They don’t bite. They’re not destructive,” Young said.
The birds can live in a big birdcage in a home or an outdoor aviary, she said.
“Last year we placed 325 with adopters,” Young said.
Regardless of whether folks at the Stroll decide to adopt a bird, listen to a kalimba or accept a lollipop from a clown, one thing’s for sure — self-care will be important Sunday. Temperatures in the 80s are predicted, so sunscreen, hats and lots of hydration will be important.
Parking will likely be tight, and organizers are providing a free shuttle from North Berkeley BART with several stops on Marin adjacent to Solano. For more information about the event, visit the solanostroll.org website.