2010 Arts & Green Festival Recap

2010 was the first year that the city decided to merge its two major spring Festivals, so we knew that if the weather were good, the turnout would be fantastic and we would have our work cut out for us. The day was sunny and therefore busy, as expected. For the first time, Albany Strollers & Rollers and Street Level Cycles were given a location in the prime real estate of the southeast corner of Memorial Park. That perfect location made us an integral part of the festival, and certainly helped contribute to our success.

Thanks to our generous sponsor, Bua Luang Thai Cuisine, we were able to provide free Bicycle Valet Parking services for the 135 cyclists (and additional people with scooters and strollers) who rolled to the Festival. Ken McCroskey, Preston Jordan and Steve Zavestoski set up Ken's hand-built racks. With such a large turnout, we barely had enough space for the cyclists who showed up! Ken, time to build another one? Sylvia Paull and Anne Malamud headed up the BVP, ably assisted by Diego & Nico Chavez, Buddy Williams, Mattison Ly & baby, Kumari Chadha and Neta Johnson. The last two mentioned are students at Albany High School's Connect Academy, and were connected to us by Paul Rooney. Sylvia specifically mentioned their excellent work ethic – I hope they'll come back! Bua Luang's owner, Pat, also provided us with discount coupons for the restaurant to distribute, so no one will be without a delicious Thai dinner for long. If you missed the opportunity, perhaps you picked some up at Bike to Work Day. Otherwise, I'm sure they'll partner with us on another event in the future.

A new and important aspect was the free lights we were able to distribute, thanks to our new partner, Safeway. AS&R member Tony Caine was the impetus behind this great idea, and made the connection with Safeway. He also personally distributed most of the 125 front bike lights to people who couldn't believe that there was no catch… nope, just a free light to keep you safe on the road. Tony would later tell me that he felt like Santa Claus! And to make matters even better, this fall Albany school kids will get a matching number of front lights, also supported by Safeway. If you missed this opportunity, we will be distributing 125 more free Safeway lights at September 13th's Solano Stroll. If you want to make sure you get one, sign up to volunteer with us and you'll be first in line :-) !

Of course, we still have the rear blinking lights for sale, benefiting Albany school kids as well. Tony, Sherie Reineman (who was pulling double duty, having captained a rest station earlier in the day at the Grizzly Peak Century) and I sold a good number of them. We have now sold well over 200 during the past year or so – these old standbys are clearly a big hit.  I'd like to thank Laurie, Jamie and Bruce at FunSource, who worked long and hard to make sure that the graphics on both type of lights looked perfect, and that they made it to us in time for the festival!

A crucial component of our presence, as always, was Street Level Cycles bringing work stands and mechanics, and offering free tuneups to everyone who turned up! I know for a fact that this perk gets people to drag their bikes out of their garages, get them in working order and get back on those bikes for Bike to Work Day and beyond! Preston offered this anecdote: “A woman mentioned that her bike had a flat rear tire she had been meaning to get around to for a while.  I told her Street Level Cycles might be able to repair it.  I asked if she lived nearby and would get her bike if Street Level could make this repair.  She said yes.  We went over to Julian and asked him.  He said they could make the repair.  She left to get her bike and I saw Street Level working with her to repair the flat later.” If it weren't for SLC,  that woman's bike would no doubt still be sitting unused and dusty in her garage! As usual, coordinator Julian Marszalek and Chris Thompson led the SLC charge, with volunteers & interns Matt, Noah, Justin, Dori, Ken, Chris and Alvin tuning to their hearts' content. On a personal note, I was happy to see a female mechanic, Dori,  who's setting a great example for young girls who see her at work. The group tuned up 40+ bikes in the four hours of the Festival.

Festival goers, especially kids, snapped up the Jelly Belly Sport Beans that the company had given us. Preston and his kids had been lucky enough to draw pickup duty for the beans, which included a tour of their Fairfield factory.
Matt McHugh, having worked the GPC early that morning, still had the energy to take photos, which will be posted on the website soon.

Steve (another who'd worked GPC earlier) rode his Dahon folding bike for display, Miya Kitahara rode her adult tricycle with the cargo basket, David Arkin showed off his XtraCycle, Svante Rodegard, whom I'd fortuitously met at a rowing regatta the previous week, rolled up with his Danish-made Pedersen Bicycle, which I feel safe to say, no one had seen before. Have you seen a bike crossed with a hammock? That would be a Pedersen Bicycle! These bikes and others gave the visitors to our booth an idea of just what human-powered possibilities are out there to ride.

Laura Nikravesh had the envious job of picking up the Chipotle burritos, which Ashley supplied for all the volunteers. With such a busy day, everyone was really hungry and thrilled to see her ride in with her panniers filled with burritos!

Kudos to everyone who manned the AS&R table, the BVP signup and the SLC tuneups. As the first year of a merged event, we knew it would be hectic and it lived up to our expectation. Thanks to everyone, veterans and rookies alike, for pulling together to make it a great success. Thanks to Nick Pilch, Ken and Sherie, who stayed past the bitter end to break down and clean up, a role that I will never underestimate.

Thanks to Heather Cunningham, who helped wrangle and organize the volunteers necessary to take on such a big undertaking, as well as finding the demo bikes.

A big thank you goes out to Isabelle Leduc of the City of Albany, who along with Peggy McQuaid, Miya Kitahara, Tom Cooper, Amy St. George, Allan Maris, Anne Goess, Paul Rooney and Susan Adame, kept Albany Strollers & Rollers in the loop regarding all Festival decisions and truly made us part of the process.
Thanks again to all of you who helped out, and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

ciao – Amy Smolens

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