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Inaugural city extravaganza this week combines art and innovation

Pleasanton's new IGNITE! showcase set for Saturday

An exciting evening is in store for anyone who ventures near the Firehouse Arts Center this Saturday night as art meets innovation with IGNITE! The free city-sponsored extravaganza will kick off at 5 p.m. Oct. 14 with the exhilaration of the Eden Aoba Taiko Japanese Drum Group.

"We've never done anything like this before -- we are very excited about it," community services manager Michele Crose said. "We wanted something unique that would draw people into Pleasanton."

The evening event will feature two stages of live entertainment -- one in front of the Firehouse and one in back. "Digital painters" Jeremy Sutton and Peggy Gyulai will interpret sounds and sights on their iPads throughout the event and project their findings on two large screens.

Inside the Firehouse Theater, "Ignite talks" -- similar to TED Talks only just five minutes long -- will give audiences a variety of topics to stimulate their thoughts and creativity.

In the lobby, Savioke's Relay Robot will show off its ability to perform tasks that are usually done by humans. (Relay Robot has been a hit serving hotel guests who are open to high-tech innovations.)

Pleasanton's Civic Arts Commission had been wanting to create a signature event for the city for some time, Crose said.

"We'd been brainstorming for some time, and then in January 2015 we held a workshop to really draw down," she recalled.

They talked about Pleasanton's identity historically, and they kept coming back to the word "innovative."

"We were innovative growing hops, then with our roses, our dairy," Crose said. "We said, let's do something with art and innovation. It just clicked."

Pleasanton continues to be innovative, she noted, as home to businesses on the cutting edge of technology such as Oracle and Workday.

Crose said when they began to play with words and discuss their vision of the event, they agreed on "Ignite! Where Innovation Meets Art." Then they decided it should be an evening event, which would add excitement and be different from other city fests -- plus it would not conflict with sports and other family activities.

"At this point, we have over 30 vendors that will be on the streets of Division and Railroad, both the art and innovations sides of the event," Crose said.

Middle and high school students will have booths that focus on their STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) and robotics programs.

"The Food Truck Mafia will be there, with about five trucks, so you can ignite your appetite at the event with their delicacies," Crose added with a laugh.

The Hot Club of San Francisco will perform gypsy jazz. And the evening will end with a performance, beginning at 8:30 p.m., by fire dancers from the Firelight Society, who guarantee they add sizzle to any event.

The city is collaborating on the event with Museum on Main, Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council, Pleasanton Downtown Association and the Pleasanton Unified School District. It is hoped that IGNITE! will take place annually.

Drums to robots to fire

What: IGNITE! Art + Innovation

When: 5-9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14

Where: Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave., and nearby streets

Cost: Free

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