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Berkeley to Host Really Big Block Party Sunday

Berkeley is gearing up for its first "Sunday Streets" block party on Oct. 14, when 16 blocks of four-lane Shattuck Avenue will be closed from downtown to the Gourmet Ghetto for music, strolling, skating, dancing and other street-party fun.

The increasingly popular pastime of closing off major city streets to traffic for an afternoon of community fun is coming to Berkeley.

On Oct. 14, the city will close 1.2 miles of one of its main traffic arteries, Shattuck Avenue, to throw a very long block party.

This "Sunday Streets Berkeley" is the first time the city will participate in a growing "Open Streets" movement by localities to transform their streets into car-free playgrounds for an afternoon, organizers say. San Francisco's Sunday Streets have proved popular, and several other Bay Area cities have hosted such events.

"Cycle, stroll, skate, dance, and play in the open streets!," says an announcement on the city's website. "The streets will be car-free and extremely people-friendly."

Shattuck will be closed from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. between Haste Street in central Berkeley and Rose Street in the north Berkeley, a route that encompasses both downtown the Gourmet Ghetto.

"Local businesses, non-profits, clubs, individual artists, musicians, dodgeball players and chess instructors will use the space creatively to engage others," says the website for the event. "Merchants and restauranteurs are invited to put out cafe-style seating for socializing. Some will host musicians in the parking lanes. There will be pedal-powered music rather than large amplified sound stages. Interactive activities are encouraged: jams, dancing, free classes and games."

The chief sponsor is Livable Berkeley, working with East Bay Bicycle Coalition, the Ecology Center, the Downtown Berkeley Association, the North Shattuck Association and the City of Berkeley.

The cities of Albany and El Cerrito held their second joint street party, "Alberrito Streets," on Sept. 22.

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