Solano Stroll Sparks Streets

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A shoulder-to-shoulder crowd filled a more than one-mile stretch of Solano Avenue for Sunday's 30th annual Solano Avenue Stroll in North Berkeley yesterday.

This year's theme, "A Pearl of a Stroll," celebrated the fair's pearl anniversary. Participants in the stroll's parade were encouraged to decorate their floats with pearls.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children walked among more than 600 booths offering a diverse array of food, merchandise and services.

"It's Berkeley and Albany's reunion," said event organizer Lisa Bullwinkel, explaining the fair's success. "You run into your old neighbors."

A pair of men wielding signs denouncing gay marriage sought to capitalize on the large turnout, lingering for hours on the packed street despite "boos," derisive shouts and assaults with Silly String from passersby.

Despite the minor disturbance, Albany police Sergeant David Bettencourt said no incidents were reported besides a few children separated from their parents.

Ninety entertainment groups performed during the day, including magicians, musicians and an exhibit of eight art cars.

Longtime art car enthusiast Harrod Blank's entry, a brightly striped 1965 Volkswagen Bug called the "Oh My God" car, sported a globe as a hood ornament and a broken television containing a pitchfork and a skull on the roof.

"With art cars, there's no curator-you just drive your car through your audience," Blank said.


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