The Solano Stroll barely needs any introduction. A mile-long block party that has been held annually since 1974, the Stroll is easily the East Bay’s largest festival.

The organizers expect a turn-out of 250,000 this year, but don’t let that put you off. There are 26 blocks to stroll, a parade to watch, and a plethora of free entertainment to enjoy.

This year, the stroll falls on September 11, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and, fittingly, the theme is “Unsung Heroes”. The event will honor “those who play a heroic role in our everyday lives”, be it first responders, teachers, librarians, coaches – anyone you consider to be a hero in your everyday life.

In addition to the retailers and restaurants doing business on Solano year-round, many other vendors will be offering a bounty of international food, clothing, jewelry, toys, gift items and more. And this year, you’ll be able to visit the Berkeleyside stand if you want to say hello, find out more or give us some story ideas. We’ll be at the upper end of Solano (the Berkeley end, of course!), near Mechanics Bank.

“We’ll have over 500 vendors, including food stands with cuisine from Armenia to China, Italy to Vietnam, Mexican, Mediterranean, Mongolian, French, Indian, barbecue, vegan — you name it, we’ll have it there,” said Allen Cain, Director of the Solano Avenue Association. “Not to mention 50 exceptional entertainers representing the same great international diversity that is the Bay Area.”

The live music line-up has too many impressive acts to list here. It includes Downtown Rhythm, Adama: Music of the Jewish People, Ballet Folklorico Juvenil de Berkeley, Bandworks School of Rock, Berkeley High School Jazz, Blues Daddies, Bryan Duncan, Deep Fried Bubblegum, Fred Anderson, Kopi-Katz, and Troupe Tangiers & Sharifa’s Habibi’s.

A special area of the stroll — which is a resolutely family-friendly affair — is set aside just for kids and will feature an assortment of state-of-the-art mechanical rides, a Ferris-wheel, carnival games, face painters, and magic. The Green Zone on the east side of Solano Avenue will offer tips about simple changes you can make at your home or business to reduce global warming. There’s a “stage door” area with over a dozen local performance/theater groups, a pets’ area, as well as a school/youth resource area.

Berkeleyside is proud to be a sponsor of the 37th Annual Solano Avenue Stroll which takes place in Albany and Berkeley on Sunday, September 11th from 10am-6pm. The parade begins at 10am.

Visit the Solano Stroll 2011 website for full details.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...