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Santa Monica Parties Down  

By Melonie Magruder
Lookout Staff

May 10, 2011 – As proven on the twentieth anniversary of the community-friendly Santa Monica Festival, this city really knows how to throw a party, even when the ta is about traic and development.

Last Saturday, Clover Park was awash in dancing kids, relaxed parents, pick up basketball games, rocking music, one-of-a-kind mouth-watering food trucks, world crafts and plenty of affable city employees ready to explain their various departments’ ongoing efforts to make Santa Monica just the kind of place you’d want to live.

Dancers get down with Superhumanois. (Photos by Melonie Magruder)

Perfect weather might have helped pull in crowds for the free event – light breezes, clear blue skies and the aroma of Let’s Be Frank hot dogs and green chili tamales were drawing neighborhood families like the moon draws water.

Dance Attack See cajoled flash mobs onto the dance floor and the Sweat Spot Dancers made you want to join their mantra, “Dance… Sweat… Live,” appropriate advice for anyone who came within 50 yards of the booth selling sugar roasted almonds.

A stroll by the booths touting the public works projects of the Planning and Community Development or the Civil Engineering and Streets Maintenance departments yielded surprising information on just how sustainably our city operates (the event is co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and the Environment).

Alex Parry was keen on the Architectural Services Division’s new bus shelter design for the 360 city bus stops.

“We met with riders, drivers and pedestrians to see how we could design something that will promote efficiency for traffic, yet comfort for riders and be environmentally sensitive as well,” Parry said.

“The new shelters will give drivers good view corridors to see if people are waiting at the stop and will provide riders optimal shade, depending on the location of the stop.”

Building Official Ron Takiguchi described the city’s “Building Safety Month” and praised Santa Monicans’ involvement in helping to shape future city growth.

“Growth is going to happen, but we can control how it affects our traffic,” Takiguchi said. “The idea is to integrate existing building design with managed growth and create an even greater community feel.”

Most of the festival attendees, however, were content to check out the artisanal jewelry or visit the crafts booths. At the Japanese Book Binding display, Lisa Lewis worked diligently on a hand-sewn notebook, saying, “I think I’ll write love notes in it to send to my friend.”

The reDiscover and Urban Craft Center saw participants cutting up plastic shopping bags (soon to be rare, thanks to the city’s recent ban on single-use plastic bags) to create ingenious little decorative pom poms.

Annalena makes a pom pom.

“We’re all about repurposing,” instructor Kerri Blackstone said.

Joe Dillon found a unique method to help create “Spin Art;” as young artists spilled paint onto a revolving panel, Dillon controlled the speed with his motorized wheelchair.

Eric Bloom, executive director of the brand-new Santa Monica Repertory Theatre was there, cheerfully outlining plans to open rehearsals of their upcoming production of “The Tempest” to the public – an approach sure to provoke either inspiration or chaos.

And the music simply rocked. Local group Superhumanoids finished off the afternoon with selections from their latest CD of indie-pop, electro energy “Parasite Paradise.”

After revelers built up an appetite, the food trucks were there to feed you everything from French crepes to quesadillas, creamy yogurt to Coolhaus’ ice cream sandwich cookies packed into edible wrappers. Olive Oil ice cream was the flavor of the day, but you wouldn’t want to miss the Brown Butter Candied Bacon or the Caramia Lehrer in the Maple Waffle White Chocolate Cookie.

Food trucks rock.

Best of all for the enviro-minded, the event was practically carbon-emission free, with compostable serving utensils and solar panels to power the musicians’ amplifiers being the order of the day.

As Takaguchi said, “We love our community!”


“Growth is going to happen, but we can control how it affects our traffic.” Ron Takiguchi

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