Big Throng Expected for Solano Stroll Sunday

The annual Solano Stroll is expected to pack Solano Avenue in Albany and Berkeley with a quarter million people Sunday, not to mention a parade, 26 blocks of booths, entertainment and food. New this year is a police motorcycle contest.

Solano Stroll, 2011.
Solano Stroll, 2011.
The annual Solano Avenue Strollreturns this Sunday, Sept. 8, with its usual 26-block line-up of booths, a big parade and multiple forms of entertainment, plus a new event likely to add to the excitement – a statewide police motorcycle competition.

The free event, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., has become the East Bay's largest street party, with an expected attendance of 250,000, according Allen Cain, executive director of the Solano Avenue Association. The association organizes the family-friendly, alcohol-free festival, which is hosted by the cities of Albany and Berkeley.

This year is the 39th Annual Solano Avenue Stroll, and it will feature 50 food booths, 150 government and non-profit agencies, 50 entertainers, 50 arts and crafters, and mechanical rides for kids, according to the organizers. Many of the businesses and restaurants along the avenue participate too with special offerings.

The annual parade with about 75 groups starts at 10 a.m. The grand marshall this year is the Accornero family, founders/operators of Thousand Oaks Jewelers, a Solano Avenue institution for 65 years. The parade begins at Colusa Avenue and proceeds west down Solano, from the Berkeley portion of the street to Albany's segment.

The theme this year is red, so participants fond of color coordinating may want to dress accordingly.

New – police motorcycle competition

New to the Stroll this year will be a statewide competition for police motorcycle officers, hosted by UC Berkeley police and held from 12:30-4 p.m. at Thousand Oaks Elementary School, on Colusa Avenue, half a block north of Solano.

It's the third year for the competition, which is also a training exercise, and the first time for it to held in conjunction with the Solano Stroll. Officers compete in Harley and non-Harley divisions on a track marked with orange cones. The two winners with the fastest times last year were Nick Corti of the San Leandro Police Department and Quinn Redeker of the Ventura Police Department.

Getting there

Those who drive to the event will want to know that Solano and all streets within one block of it will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. And finding close parking can be a challenge.

Free valet bicycle parking will be provided by Albany Strollers & Rollers at the "pumpkin patch," a lot on the north side of Solano just west of Masonic Avenue.

There will be free shuttles from the North Berkeley BART station, and the El Cerrito Plaza BART station is in walking distance. AC Transit buses also are available.

More transportation information can be found on the Stroll's "How to get to the Solano Avenue Stroll" webpage.

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