Berkeley Marches to Its Own Beat in Parade

Photo: Berkeley residents and community groups participated in the 'How Berkeley Can You Be?' Parade yesterday, which included acts as diverse as cupcake-shaped scooters.
Anne Marie Schuler/Photo
Berkeley residents and community groups participated in the 'How Berkeley Can You Be?' Parade yesterday, which included acts as diverse as cupcake-shaped scooters.

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Not every parade has a man dressed in a hospital gown running down the street raving about how hot Sarah Palin is. Then again, not every place is like Berkeley.

Thousands of people attended the "How Berkeley Can You Be?" Parade and Festival, which showcased how creative-or rather, how "Berkeley," community members could be.

The parade, which took place along University Avenue, led into a festival in Civic Center Park.

The event drew about 15,000 people throughout the day, said Justin Katz, program director of Epic Arts, a cultural group and one of the main organizers.

The event was founded by University Avenue Association member John Solomon in 1996 in order to celebrate the avenue and promote its businesses.

"We try to get all the different groups that make Berkeley such an interesting place represented in the parade," he said. "We also wanted to make a parade that was different from your typical parade."

The parade featured over 100 acts, and led into a festival with nearly 45 organizations, mostly Berkeley-based.

One of this year's returning acts was Acme Muffineering, whose members rode cupcake-shaped cars running on electric scooter motors.

"It's a lot of fun to get out and have people cheer at us, smiling and waving and saying how much they like the cupcakes," said Berkeley resident Claudine Ozzello, who rode on a cupcake. "We live in Berkeley, so we're just showing off how Berkeley we can be."

The crowd enjoyed an eclectic variety of acts, which included CheerSF, the first professional LGBT-identified cheerleading team in history, along with dance teams and political groups.

Berkeley resident Topden Tsering said a variety of groups were represented.

"I'm Tibetan and I know that our community is also being represented, so I came to support them and support all the other different groups," he said. "(The parade) brings together the larger community of Berkeley, it introduces to each other one's own aspirations and visions."

Solomon, who retired as the chair of the event but still volunteers, said he hopes the event will continue.

"Berkeley can be a very serious community ... and I think there's a lot of contentiousness between the various factions," he said. "This is an opportunity to get people out and celebrate community."


Contact Sameea Kamal at [email protected]

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