Kicking off summertime
First Wednesday street fairs begin with Cinco de Mayo
Don your sombrero for a Cinco de Mayo celebration as Pleasanton kicks off its summertime fun this week with the first of five First Wednesdays on Main Street.
"Cinco de Mayo is always the theme in May, but this year it really is on May 5," said Alisha Perdue, events coordinator for the Pleasanton Downtown Association, which puts on the street fair.
First Wednesday is the largest and most successful event for the PDA, Perdue said. It's a big fundraiser as organizations rent 192 booths that spread from one end of Main Street to the other. The prices range from $40-$150 for nonprofit groups to association members to non-members.
"We also earn money from the Beer and Wine Garden," she noted.
This is located in the parking lot at Round Table Pizza, and is also the site for each month's featured band.
A scheduled Latin band had to cancel, said Perdue, but she was pleased that the music of the Houserockers will be featured.
"We have 14 Concerts in the Park each year, and bands have to do the Concerts before they do First Wednesday," Perdue said. "That way we build a relationship first."
The Houserockers is known for its high energy, fun performances that get everyone up dancing, combining rock, swing, blues, '60s soul and R&B.
Each group decides how to decorate and what to offer in its own booth, said Perdue, so it's up to them to carry out the Cinco de Mayo theme.
"We give them the real estate on the street," she explained. "What they do is up to them. Some take full advantage of it."
Booths are rented by downtown and Tri-Valley businesses to sell or display their wares, plus many charities, nonprofit groups, school groups and other organizations partake to meet with community members and pass out information.
Food is also a popular item, coming as these events do at dinnertime. Stands sell barbecued dinners, snacks and beverages, and restaurants are filled with patrons, lines often leading out the door.
Perdue noted that the May and September street fairs don't always fill up so booths can be rented until the day before the event.
"The first one, people forget," she said. "After that, word travels quickly."
First Wednesday draws more families when school is out for vacation, she said, and when the days are longer. The most popular one is in August for the Pooch Parade, hosted by the Tri-Valley Guide Dogs Puppy Raisers. This will be the 13th year for that popular event.
Dozens and dozens of people line up at Lions Wayside Park around 5 p.m. with their pet dogs, often dressed in matching or complementary costumes. On cue around 6 p.m., dog and their humans strut around to Main Street for everyone to see. Entry fee has been $10.
It's also a contest. Previously there have been eight categories: Most Creative Costumed Pooch, Cute Enough As Is (naked pooches under 30 pounds), Best Team Outfit (human and pooch), Best Team Outfits (pooch and pooch), Cute Enough As Is (naked pooches over 30 pounds), Puppy Fun (2 years old and younger), Senior Pooches (10 years and older) and Best "Trick" Pooch.
In the more crowded months, Purdue said they place extra booths on the side streets.
Perdue was excited to announce that this year, starting in June, the street fair will extend to the bridge, and she plans to place more entertainment at that spot. This month the fair ends at St. John Street. On the south end of town, Main Street is closed at Bernal although the booths don't begin for a block.
"We don't have booths there for safety reasons," she said.
Infineon Raceway will have a pace car on display on Angela Street, something new for First Wednesday, said Perdue.
Something else new this year is the bright yellow vests that will be worn by some volunteers to make sure they can be spotted. Others will wear the traditional green T-shirts with the PDA logo.
Volunteers are an important part of First Wednesday and all PDA events, said Perdue. There will always be some stationed at the volunteer booth, checking IDs for the Beer and Wine Garden.
"We have about 35-40 volunteers for this event," she said.
"They're Pleasanton residents - some who have been here a long time and they want to give back, and some are new," she said.
"Lots of them are PDA members but some are not," added Sue Post, administrative assistant. "They are at every event, like the wine stroll."
The new PDA Executive Director Laura Olson will also be there although she does not formally begin the position until May 10. She is replacing Christine Salidivar who left in February to move to Florida.
Olson was last year's chairman of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and is an executive with UNCLE Credit Union. She was executive director of the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau for five years before joining UNCLE.
Perdue will be all over the place, she said, like the Tasmanian devil.
"I'll be in 700 places at once," she said. "My cell phone doesn't stop ringing."
The event takes place from 6-9 p.m. Main Street will be blocked off starting at 4:30 p.m.
Many residents feel that the best part of First Wednesday is running into neighbors and friends, and catching up with people you may not have seen in a while.
Anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 people show up for First Wednesdays, Perdue remarked.
"It's a Pleasanton feel-good event," she said. And, true to the goal of the PDA, it leads people to discover - and rediscover - downtown Pleasanton.
"It's such a cool event, that people look forward to," she remarked.
"This one will be a kick off to the summer," added Post.
FIRST WEDNESDAYS 2010
* May 5 - Cinco de Mayo with the Houserockers
* June 2 - featured band, the Cocktail Monkeys
* July 7 - continuing the spirit of Independence Day with Night Fever
* Aug. 4 - the ever-popular pooch parade; featured band Public Eye
* Sept. 1 - good-bye to summer and the street parties with Finding Stella
STOP BY AND SAY HELLO
The Pleasanton Weekly, as always, welcomes everyone to stop by its booth at First Wednesday. This year it will be located near Dean's Cafe, 620 Main St. We look forward to meeting everyone.