Or Mother Goose, a cow, reindeer, toy soldier, Jelly Belly, or most recently, Sesame Street’s Big Bird (or rather, at a daunting 5 foot 2, a not so Big Bird). Though it’s true, I’ve been an active and involved merchant on Union Street for nearly 26 years, it is also true that I have logged hundreds of hours as costumed characters during our big street events. My secret life as these characters began as a dare between friends but grew into something more. Perhaps it was the anonymity that lured me into these costumes, providing me a platform for unadulterated fun, or maybe it was the varied reactions of the children – pure wonder and delight from most, sheer terror from a handful, absolute entertainment for all. Screams and whispers of “I love you, Easter Bunny” or a tentative look and then giant hug from a two-foot-high toddler does wonders for the spirit, and while no one can see your face inside the costume, there you are with a big ole permanent grin plastered across it.
Oh yes, it is fun, and despite the fact that for this year’s Union Street Spring Celebration and Easter Parade I’ve bequeathed my fuzzy costumed feet to a new wannabe rabbit, I’m certain I’ll sneak a moment or two inside the ever smiling Happy Girl Bunny. After all, Easter is the biggest event of the year on our street, and I still love being part of the festivities. It is our 21st year hosting this free event, which has grown into one of the biggest draws in the city. In fact, it is the only Easter Parade in San Francisco and pulls in more than 30,000 people. It is a day that reflects the personality and spirit of our neighbors and merchants and is a great “feel good” day for the thousands of families and friends who come to participate.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Easter Day (Sunday, April 8), Union Street from Gough to Fillmore is closed to traffic and is transformed into Bunny Boulevard, a street filled with colorful décor, balloons, music, and tons of activities for kids and the entire family.
Traditionally we begin with the outrageous hat contest, in which everyone is welcome to create and enter their madcaps and bonnets for any number of prizes in a variety of categories. Is yours the most elegant, the largest or most wacky? Does your dog have the cutest rabbit ears, or your child the craziest crown? If so, step right up to get your number from the judges, and if not a participant, view the spectacle of hats as you’re strolling among magicians, face painters, pony rides, a petting zoo, stilt walkers, and jugglers. Or simply watch from one of the many outdoor cafes or music venues.
The Easter Parade itself is from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and is definitely a sight to be seen. For the second year, our District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell will be the grand marshal of the parade and will be heading the procession in neighbor Everett Price’s oh-so-gorgeous 1935 Packard Coupe Roadster. From mini-garden floats to wildly decorated trucks (created by many of our merchants), from a variety of vintage cars to the Duckmobile, S.F. Cheer and the S.F. Yorkshire Terrier team, and a whole lot more, this homegrown and wonderful parade is the real deal for good wholesome fun and entertainment.
Aside from that, as a total street experience, it always sparks new interest in our neighborhood. It is an opportunity for merchants to welcome new customers and for the street to shine as a whole. This influx of people and the injection of energy they bring is just what the doctor ordered for any local economy.
For more information regarding the event, including parking, please visit www.SRESproductions.com.