Sara Butler | Editor
South Parkers hit the streets on Saturday, July 21 for the South Park Summer Walkabout to experience the sights and sounds of the Uptown neighborhood.
Hosted by South Park Business Group, this quarterly evening festival highlights the unique and independent businesses in the region. The neighborhood stroll along 30th Street spanned from Fern and Kalmia streets to Beech Street.
The all-ages event — both kid and dog friendly — brought out a diverse bunch who found common ground at the various booths, storefronts and stages along the route from 6–10 p.m. Many businesses and restaurants opened their doors and offered special deals and complimentary goodies, both inside and outside of their brick-and-mortars.
Jenna Gumto, marketing associate of the South Park Business Group, estimated upwards 500 individuals attended the Walkabout; however, the group does not have an accurate way to measure the headcount at the non-ticketed, casual event.
“We put together a Walkabout Specials guide for each Walkabout to highlight things that are taking place for the evening,” Gumto said. “There were 16 specials submitted, but we estimate 20–25 businesses actually had something going on.”
One of the event’s highlights was the one-year anniversary of Warshaw’s Provisions, a fireplace store located at 2209 30th St. with focuses on mid-century style. The store celebrated its newly constructed tiki bar, a small bar attached to the shop called Bali Hito, and also released a tiki mug for the occasion.
Warshaw’s also presented live music at the house next door to the shop. Music was a big draw of the evening; Warshaw’s, Vinyl Junkies, Cafe Madeleine, Big Kitchen, and Communal Coffee were just a few of the South Park spots that transformed their outdoor patios into temporary concert spaces.
Vinyl Junkies, a record store at 2235 Fern St., opened in the neighborhood last November. Though South Park is the home of its first physical storefront, the bimonthly Vinyl Junkies Record Swap event has been hosted by founder Eric Howarth for five years at The Casbah.
The music hub hosted two musical acts: Stephen El Rey and five-piece band Babydoll Warriors.
Babydoll Warriors — 1950s-style rock ‘n’ roll mixed with doo wop and pop — has performed around Uptown for just over one month, debuting at Bar Pink in North Park earlier this summer. Band members include Mission Hills resident Julia Hall McMahon, vocals; North Park resident James Albers, guitar; Lemon Grove resident Mel Carr, bass and trumpet; Normal Heights resident Emily Connell, saxophone and bass; and Normal Heights resident Kevin Connell, drums.
“It was fun to play our songs for families and see their children bopping along to the music, whilst sitting on their parent’s shoulders!” said band member Emily Connell, noting that the Walkabout was the band’s first all-ages gig.
“South Park is a fantastic neighborhood,” she continued. “All the local businesses give their support to the arts and it’s amazing to see the support in return from people out and about on a Saturday evening. Bands like us are lucky to have an outdoor space to play at next to Vinyl Junkies, where people who wouldn’t normally know about our music have a chance to have a listen and a dance.”
One street over, cafe dwellers enjoyed the “gypsy, creative and worldly” music of Big Boss Bubeleh, a music duo who performed at Cafe Madeleine on 30th Street. Encinitas residents Yael Gmach and Vlady Yarvinsky — who originated from France and Ukraine, respectively — play in South Park whenever possible, and have a special relationship with the French cafe.
“Cafe Madeleine knows the importance of the croissant in this big bad world. They like us, we love them — South Park is as close to heaven as we can make it,” said vocalist and guitarist Yael Gmach, adding that these quarterly neighborhood events are no exception.
“The Walkabout has a family feeling for me actually, and whenever you mix super cute dancing kids and their parents, dogs, music on the sidewalk, crèpes and love, it turns out pretty good,” she continued. “Every time.”
The Fall Walkabout is scheduled for Oct. 20, 6–10 p.m. According to Gumto, the event closer to the holiday season often sees a spike in attendance, with an estimated 1,000–3,000 guests. Visit bit.ly/SPFallWalk for updates.
—Reach Sara Butler at email@example.com.