March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011

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It's tulip time on Piedmont Avenue

By J.M. Brown

The annual Tulip Festival at Mountain View Cemetery has come and gone with the blustery end of winter, but Piedmont Avenue will be abloom throughout April with special events designed around spring's colorful mascot.

The Piedmont Avenue Merchants Association will host a monthlong Art and Tulip Festival, featuring tulips and the work of local artists. The special event will culminate in a daylong Merchants Fair on April 23 to highlight artists, local schools and the avenue's eclectic mix of 250 businesses.

There will be a children's craft table at Fenton's Creamery, 4226 Piedmont Ave., from noon-3 p.m. and yoga for all levels at Piedmont Yoga Studio, 3966 Piedmont Ave., from 12:30-3 p.m. A number of merchants also will have specials in their stores that day.

The Piedmont Avenue Merchants Association has hosted the event every year following the cemetery's Tulip Festival but skipped it last year as businesses continued recovering from the economic downturn that started in 2007. But organizers got the event up and running again this spring, saying business is picking back up.

"We are very Main Street U.S.A.," said Valerie Lee Ow, owner of J. Miller Flowers and Gifts and president of the merchants association. "There is a lot of fluctuation in business. We are continuously trying to draw community members and families to the neighborhood."

Tulip Festival banners will line the avenue and the windows of shop owners. Three hundred tulips that were planted in Piedmont Plaza, at the intersection of Piedmont and Linda avenues, are almost ready to bloom, encouraged by last weekend's heavy rain.

At Cafe Crush, which opened March 1, owner Lacey Pettigrew will display the work of Kara Nelson, who fashions landscapes out of recycled materials, during an open house reception from 4-7 p.m. Pettigrew, whose shop specializes in chai tea and smoothies, donates her mulch to a group that supports garden sites at schools in West Oakland.

At Rare Bird, a clothing and home décor boutique featuring repurposed and vintage goods, owner Erica Skone-Rees will feature the work of artists Ajay Reed and Suzanne Baker. Tulips, of course, also will be in bloom during her April 23 reception from 6-9 p.m.

"We hope the energy from the Tulip Festival will transfer into a monthly event for the avenue," she said.

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