Bird Rock block party will be set to music

Why should the community attend the second annual Taste of Bird Rock on July 15?

According to organizers, the answer is simple. Besides the festive atmosphere, it's a way to sample the best victuals the community's many restaurants have to offer. It's also a great opportunity, they say, to be entertained, meet the merchants and see what they have to offer, as many of them are hosting open houses in conjunction with the special event.

This year's Rock the Block extravaganza comes during a time when merchants along La Jolla Boulevard have been hard hit by a slackening of business caused by ongoing sewer and water line construction in the area, as well as building of the large-scale condominium complex next door.

Pennie McLaughlin-Carlos is co-host of the block party event, along with Pamela Garvey. Garvey said last year's inaugural bash did better than expected. Even more is hoped for this time.

"It was amazing," she said. "Last year, we were hoping to sell 250 tickets, and we sold 700. This year, we think it will be a little bigger, as we're planning to have more activities for kids. We're starting to get to be a little more creative about how to incorporate the businesses, help them thrive in this environment."

Carlos promised fun for everyone at the affair.

"There will be facepainting, magicians, live music and crafts and featured activities for children of all ages and adults," she said.

Other activities planned at Rock the Block include art displays, pony rides and an astro-jump for the youngsters.

The event is an effort by Bird Rock Community Council," Carlos said, "as a community event to bring people together. The second reason is to promote the business district. ... We're trying to get people out to see eye to eye what merchants have in their shops and sample a lot of different foods."

Event proceeds go toward the beautification of Bird Rock Elementary School, which now has a new library, thanks in part to proceeds donated from last year's event. A portion of proceeds will also be donated to a needy San Diego Unified School District school. Schools districtwide are being forced to do more with less. State budget cuts are causing them to draw heavily on reserves or to go to local communities to ask for funding.

Besides offering samples of its vegetarian dishes, Galoka will have live music on the site. Several other Bird Rock eateries will be participating in the event offering their best dishes. Lupi will be serving up portobello mushroom lasagna. J.J.'s family restaurant will be offering various varieties of pizza. Bahia Mexican Restaurant will be serving up ethnic cuisine.

Merchants will be offering some kind of food or entertainment during the block party. Many businesses will have outdoor tables displaying wares or are running specials during the event to draw in passersby.

Food sampling tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12. Children under 3 are free. Tickets are available at Starbucks coffeehouse.

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