Weekly Lake Merritt ‘pop-up picnic’ builds village in Oakland
August 30, 2014 - Picnic Time
The smell of grilled oysters wafts on a light zephyr entrance off Lake Merritt on a Sunday afternoon in Oakland.
There are so many shade tents, chairs, grills and bicycles covering a eastern seaside that during initial peek it appears hundreds have collected for some arrange of festival.
“No, this is usually pleasing Oakland,” pronounced Alan Bailey, a bar DJ during Vinyl Oakland, who brings his mixer to a grass to perform a crowds with unpretentious beats.
No one knows accurately who started it, though given spring, Oaklanders have been display adult Sunday afternoons for a pop-up cruise that is fast apropos famous as a Dolores Park of a East Bay, sketch families, boaters, runners and musicians in a entertainment of Oakland honour that locals contend they haven’t seen in a prolonged time.
“I remember my father used to try to move us kids to a lake to do this in a ’90s and we got shooed divided by a police,” James Victor pronounced as he grilled chicken, ribs and burgers nearby Lakeshore and Cleveland Avenues. Since he detected a entertainment a month ago, he’s been creation it a Sunday protocol to prepare a large lakeside feast for his extended family.
When Victor was flourishing up, Lake Merritt was not a place to move a family to relax. It was renouned with automobile cruisers, who infrequently would retard off a eastern widen with their cars and drag race. The lake was mostly neglected as a convenience place, encircled by a sheer petrify trail and small in a approach of greenery. It had depressed distant from a moniker in a ’30s and ’40s as a “gem of Oakland.”
Now, on a heels of a publicly financed $198 million makeover upheld by a clean-water bond upheld in 2002, there are sensuous greenways, swaths of flowers, a widened corridor with benches and open telescopes to get a closer demeanour during a scullers, kayakers, boats and birds gliding on a water.
As partial of a decadelong overhaul, Lake Merritt saw many of a structures renovated, including dual boathouses, Children’s Fairyland, a 18th Street post and a pergola. The many important change was a 12th Street over-crossing, that went from a bustling 12-lane highway to a most slower six-lane street, with combined walking bridges, a tidal marsh, an amphitheater and a 4-acre park.
The renovations have lured multigenerational, multiracial crowds that have drawn comparisons to Brooklyn, as an liquid of families and artists labelled out of San Francisco join with longtime Oaklanders to minister to a newfound city pride.
Men cruise in straw fedoras, couples dance, and painters and booksellers set adult their things for sale. Picnic pity with new neighbors is common. One Sunday, a smoothness lorry parked and rolled adult a behind doorway to exhibit a bank of video games as children jostled for seats in a sailing diversion parlor.
“This is a wonderful, certain thing that brings all of us together where we can feel protected and happy to be in a possess neighborhood,” pronounced Ashley Bonner, who helped her daughter work a lemonade mount underneath a shade of an ash tree.
“I suppose this was what Oakland looked like in my grandparents’ time,” she said.
‘Really taken off’
Some snippet a pop-up picnic’s roots to Ray Nickson, who set adult a tent along a lake over a year ago and offering giveaway bike correct and customization underneath a name of his men’s bicycling group, Phixed Bikes.
As people began to dump by, he orderly bike laps around a lake, and now adult to 50 people accumulate during his hire each third Sunday. Phixed Bikes is open to anyone who wants to join, and members set adult mixed Weber grills and share food and drinks with members and passersby alike.
“There weren’t many other people here during first, though it’s unequivocally taken off this year, starting around April,” Nickson said.
Phixed Bikes members move games for kids, aged classics such as Uno, Chutes and Ladders, Twister and Life.
“We’re perplexing to get kids off their tablets and out exercising, relocating around,” Nickson said.
Sarah Elliott and Alex Wickersham of Alameda brought their 4-month-old daughter, Lola, to cruise by a lake. Although they recently changed from Oakland to Alameda, they find themselves returning Sunday afternoons.
“This is a usually place where she doesn’t tumble defunct when we pull her in a stroller,” Wickersham said. “Her conduct swivels right and left perplexing to demeanour during all a people.”
Friends Aniyah and Ijonae, both 7, were doing a sprightly sale during their lemonade stand, anticipating they’d acquire adequate to buy drum skates.
“The lake is a place where we can chill and sell stuff,” pronounced Aniyah.
Lake a destination
Agreed, pronounced Tara’s Organic Ice Cream worker Tom Howard, who pedaled his customized bike with a front-mounted ice cream freezer from Oakland’s Temescal area 4 miles divided to a lake, where health-conscious picnickers are fervent to buy flavors such as jasmine immature tea, rose, allspice and lemon verbena.
“This is ideal,” he said. “There’s a bike path, shade, a cold zephyr and people who couldn’t move ice cream in their cruise baskets.”
Oakland is changing, Wickersham said.
“Growing up, everybody used to contend that Oakland was dangerous,” he said. “When we changed here, we didn’t even know it had a lake. Now that lake is a place everybody wants to be.”
Meredith May is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @meredithmaysf