April 8, 2011
From the moment the flap jacks fly from Kiwanis Club spatulas, the Good Old Days have it going on. “It,” though, is a lot of things: Families fill the streets for the first glimpse of the Rotary Parade. Munching is mandatory, what with more than 30 vendors of almost every cuisine—German, Greek and Thai, oh my—and so is at least a brief peek at the shiny vintage Impalas, Woodys and Mercurys on display. Maybe then it’s the moment for a meander over to Stillwell Court in Caledonia Park to root for your favorite DJ or journalist in the Media Challenge Basketball Tournament. Taking in a free family movie or acquiring a new jade bracelet or fine silver watch is less compulsory, though possibly compulsive. Below follow five pieces of the “it” that makes the event tick, from the puppies to the past. (For the Good Old Days’ own program, click here or see this week's special insert in the Weekly.)
Hard to top a shih tzu dressed as a monarch butterfly, but a poodle in military fatigues might just do it—and yes, those costumed creatures have appeared for the SPCA-sponsored pet fashion show in years past. The pet events only proliferate from there: There’s a puppy cuteness contest, a pet and owner look-a-like contest and, debuting this year, look-a-like contests comparing Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum and his shaggy hair (cocker spaniel?) and President of P.G.’s Chamber of Commerce Moe Ammar (schnauzer?). In Jewell Park (across the street from PG’s Natural History Museum), these activities are accompanied by a display of exotic animals from Salinas’ animal ranch Wild Things—though the sugar gliders, mona monkeys and chinchillas will stay home, there will be plenty of snakes and birds like ball pythons and parakeets.
With a line-up of 50-plus artists and groups, you could call this a full-blown music festival. All new this year is the “Latin stage” brought to you by DJ Willi Entertainment and San Francisco’s elite gypsy jazz outfit Beso Negro playing originals and covers. Five different stages total spread throughout the town hosting everyone from classic rockers Firefly to two-man Band of Ninjas, whose cover of OneRepublic’s “All the Right Moves” ably speaks to their ability. The 10 members of Nu Horizons prioritize funk as they play “Oye Como Va” and send folks dancing down the streets, while popular locals The Money Band do high-energy renditions of songs from the ’50s to present. And Monterey’s one and only female barbershop chorus, the harmonious Bay Belles, even appear to show what lady can do a cappella.
They hail from New York, Washington, Oregon and Arizona and plunk down $265 to stock one of more than 200 stalls with jumbles of turquoise rings, hand painted polished stone necklaces, silver bangles and jade earrings; stacks of tie-dye shirts, graphic tees, and women’s leather jackets; one-of-a-kind items like handmade needle work quilts from the Monterey Peninsula Quilter’s Guild; local sea salts; handmade wooden coat racks and puzzles; handmade river-grass baskets; hand blown Italian murano glass; exotic potpourri; and even organic baked goods for dogs.
As the wind throws your hair back, the arms go up and a scream of laughter escapes. Pacific Grove is family friendly any given day, but today the mini coaster, merry-go-round, rock wall, and Scrambler near the post office make for rare kid excitement. Jewell Park, meanwhile, is the central location for a Kids Fair with basketball, an inflatable obstacle course, soccer, lacrosse, face painting, arts and crafts, healthy snacks and a ton of prizes.
A Look Back
In the Good Old beginning, older ladies would descend on Lighthouse Avenue, some 60 or 70 all told, to share recipes and baked goods with friends and neighbors in the community. Soon enough, stores and venders started to cash in on the gathering, and what started as a sidewalk sale now swallows nine blocks and a few parks. The Chamber’s first GOD included a doll show, members dressed in Victorian clothing and antique cars. It featured three popular Peninsula artists at the time, S.F.B. Morse (founder of Pebble Beach), Bennet Bradbury, and James Riley Stevenson. More than 6,000 visitors swarmed the town. Today 25 nonprofits participate and the crowds creep toward 30,000 total visitors over two days.
The Good Old Days takes place 8am-7:30pm Sat and 9am-5pm Sun. Lighthouse Avenue and surrounding streets, downtown Pacific Grove. Free. For a full schedule click here or see the special insert in this week's issue. 373-3304, www.pacificgrove.org>