The City of Emeryville held its first ever “Block Party” at Bay Street last Saturday. About 25 vendors posted up along the main artery of the Bay Street Shopping Center selling art, spreading awareness of their organizations and engaging with the community.
An estimated 1000 – 1500 attended the free event, listening to live performances and partaking in the craft beer and wine being served. The events also hosted a kids play area with balloon-makers and face-painters.
Because Emeryville lacks a central downtown area, Bay Street fills in admirably by providing foot traffic, parking, and a protected strip for folks to congregate.
Participating community organizations included The Friends of the Emeryville Senior Center, The Emeryville Police Department and The Oakland Public Library. Food vendors included the Grilled Cheese Guy and The Tatery. Participating local businesses included Bullseye Glass, East Bay Therapeutics and yours truly.
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The event was initiated by The Emeryville Community Services Department and supported by Bay Street’s management group, Madison Marquette. “We (Bay Street and CSD) have been in discussions for the past year or so about partnering and doing an event,” noted Community Services Director Pedro Jiminez.
“We were absolutely pleased to have had the opportunity to partner with the City of Emeryville to hold the Inaugural Emeryville Block Party,” added Bay Street Senior General Manager Nathaniel Centeno. Centeno also serves on Emeryville’s Budget Advisory Committee.
“Seeing so many people from Emeryville and beyond, come out to enjoy the event, brought our team a tremendous amount of joy and a feeling of great pride for the city and for Bay Street.” Centeno extended his appreciate to the vendors, entertainers and participants of the event.
While this event was a trial and there’s no guarantee it will become an annual function, Jiminez seemed optimistic that the success would lead to its continuation. “We hope it can be a yearly event. We will be debriefing soon and once we have a chance to evaluate the event, we will be able to determine that.”
Centeno reaffirmed his company’s willingness to again collaborate with the city and help build on their partnership “We look forward to partnering again with Emeryville and their Community Services Department to continue building up a strong, vibrant community and help make Emeryville the place to be.”
Emeryville previously partnered with North Oakland for the annual Love our Neighborhood Day in 2014 before the event was condensed to San Pablo Avenue only. There was also a planned Emeryville Crab & Brewfest that turned out to be a sham.
If there was any damper on the day, it was the large gusts of wind that caused several of the canopy’s to take flight. Fortunately, nobody was hurt although some merchandise was damaged. Bay Street crews scrambled to bring sandbags to help anchor the canopy legs.
There were a few local businesses and artisans we spoke with that expressed a desire to participate in future events should it continue. There event holds enormous potential to further the public-private partnership with the city and Emeryville’s largest shopping center.