Let the Summer Festivities Begin

Sleeping in, tanning by the beach, living on ice cream and … marching in a parade? You can do that and more at four festivals and fairs bound to further heat up the Bay Area this upcoming summer.

San Francisco Pride
The streets of San Francisco will be lined with flamboyant color, festivity and diversity during the last weekend of June this year.

Celebrating the “Freedom of all people to proudly express their sexual and gender identities,” this year’s annual Pride celebration in San Francisco commemorates the protest of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) patrons in New York City over 40 years ago.

Those not attending are truly missing out. The event will start at the Civic Center Plaza on Saturday, June 28, at noon with multiple bands showcasing their music while vendors set up booths around the plaza. For the next 12 hours, people are welcome to enjoy the atmosphere, the food and the many interesting outfits celebrators don for the weekend.

“United by Pride, Bound for Equality!” is the theme for this year’s 38th annual San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, which has become the second-largest parade in California (after the Rose Parade in Pasadena). The parade is scheduled to be held on Sunday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Admission is free, though a voluntary $5 donation is requested at the entry gates.

All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream
Hope Services brings every kid’s dream to reality this summer with its third annual Ice Cream Zoofari. On Saturday, June 21 from 5-8 p.m., people of all ages can gather at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, San Jose for an all-you-can-eat ice cream social.

The event provides ice cream cones, sundaes, popcorn, education programs and entertainment for a reasonable price of $12 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Admission tickets come with all the ice cream you can eat, free rides in the park, activities and visits with the zoo animals.

Ice Cream Zoofari is becoming a Zero Waste event this year, ensuring that products are capable of being reused, repaired or recycled back into nature. All food and drinks will be served in compostables (products made from sugarcane and corn) or recycled packaging.

Attendees will be asked to bring home non-recyclable items, as trash cans will not be available. Most of the money made will go into HOPE Services’ program for infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities.

Tickets can be bought at the event or reserved online at hopeservices.org.

Precious Cheese North Beach Festival
This year, the arts and crafts festival will celebrate 54 years with celebrity chefs, street art and live music on Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Washington Square Park, San Francisco.

Since North Beach is known as “San Francisco’s Little Italy,” most activities will contain an Italian theme. World champion pizza tosser Tony Gemignani, who demonstrated his tossing skills at the festival two years ago, will return to perform live and attempt to teach people how to toss dough.

At the same time, there will be a showcase of Italian street chalk art on the streets of Vallejo, where attendees are encouraged to participate in the festival’s new recycled art presentation by sculptor Terry Marashlian.

The festival also takes a unique approach and hosts Assisi animal blessings at 2 p.m. on both days. Pets are welcome at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi to receive a special blessing.

Live bands will play a wide variety of music, including alternative, rhythm & blues, Latin rock, pop rock, reggae, salsa and swing.

Admission is free.

The Fire Arts Festival
This summer’s hottest event is without a doubt the Crucible’s Fire Arts Festival, which will take place from Wednesday, July 9 to Saturday, July 12.

With an open-air exhibition of interactive fire art and performance of the West Coast, the festival drew 10,000 people last year.

The festival celebrates creativity through fire and light and will feature outdoor fire sculptures and art from all over the country. Each night, attendees can enjoy incredible fire, music and dance performances.

Last year’s festival goers had the opportunity to see “The Fire Odyssey,” an original production blending industrial fire with ballet, opera, hip-hop, aerial dance and fire performances. Extraordinary art will be up for grabs at their annual art auction.

Along with stunning aerial dance performers, flaming sculptures, fine wines and appetizers, The Crucible will offer the chance to contribute to their special benefit fundraiser: The Fire & Light  Art Auction Soiree.

Donors can enjoy reserved seating at the final night of The Fire Arts Festival.