Solano Stroll fun facts
09/05/2012 05:20:42 PM PDT
09/06/2012 11:49:46 AM PDT
The Solano Stroll started out 40 years ago as a modest evening event hosted on a Friday night by the Thousand Oaks Merchants Association. The initial event was confined strictly to the sidewalks on the upper part of Solano Avenue and attracted "perhaps about a hundred people." Today's event is known as the largest block party in the East Bay, encompasses the length of Solano from San Pablo Avenue in Albany to the Alameda in Berkeley, attracting somewhere from 250,000 to 300,000 people (there is some turnover during the day, according to the event's host, the Solano Avenue Association). The event was made now alcohol-free after some disturbances and arrests in the 1980s. As a result, the Stroll sees few incidents other than lost children. "It takes about 600 staff hours to produce the event, plus hundreds of additional hours of volunteer time," according to the Solano Avenue Association. "In the year 2000, the Solano Avenue Stroll became an official "Local Legacy," installed into the United States Library of Congress with the help of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the association notes in tis history of the event. "The Solano Avenue Stroll 'celebrates America's rich diverse culture.'" The grand marshall of the Stroll in 1996 was Buffalo Bob Smith, beloved to baby boomers as the host of 1950s television network children's show "Howdy Doody." Smith's puppet, Howdy Doody, accompanied him in the parade and at the grandstand. Click photo to enlarge
Buffalo Bob Smith, a beloved children's show host from the 1950s, was the grand marshall of the 1996 Solano Stroll, accompanied by his puppet sidekick, Howdy Doody.