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Fifth annual event promises good food, fun and entertainment:Taste of Bird Rock celebrates community

Bird Rockers will take to the streets to celebrate the unique character of their community - a character that is changing every day.

The fifth annual Taste of Bird Rock event will be held Thursday, July 19 from 5 to 9 p.m. along La Jolla Boulevard. Featuring samples from local restaurants, discounts and giveaways at local merchants, live music and kids’ attractions, the event is meant to highlight the renaissance of the Bird Rock neighborhood.

New restaurants, clothing boutiques, salons and other businesses have revitalized the Bird Rock neighborhood over the last several years. Several changes have also been made to make La Jolla Boulevard more “walk-able,” including the construction of traffic roundabouts that make it easier for pedestrians to cross the Boulevard, which many drivers use as a main connector between La Jolla and Pacific Beach.

Drivers will have to find a different route Thursday, as three blocks of La Jolla Boulevard, from Midway Avenue to Camino de la Costa, will be closed to vehicular traffic.

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Lindsey Arellano, one of the event’s organizers, said that Bird Rock is a community in the true sense of the word, and that its special qualities will be on display at the Taste of Bird Rock.

“We pride ourselves on being community-driven, a neighborhood with a lot of camaraderie,” Arellano said. “When I go down to the coffee shop to get coffee, I know who’s making it. On the way home, I see friends on the sidewalks. We’ll have portions of the street closed off to create that street-party sort of atmosphere.”

Tickets to the event cost $25 for adults, $15 for children, and can be purchased at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, 5627 La Jolla Blvd., and La Jolla Mailbox, 5666 La Jolla Blvd. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold and the event sells out most years.

Taste of Bird Rock is a main fund-raiser for Bird Rock Elementary School. This year, organizers hope to raise enough money to pay for new computers at the school’s technology lab.

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“Every year their funding gets cut more and more, and they only have a few good fund-raisers each year. This is one of them,” Arellano said.

Bird Rock Elementary School students also get involved by picking the event’s theme. This year they chose, “Catch the Wave.” For kids, that means the entertainment at this year’s event will include a surfing simulator. The event’s planners see the theme as a reference to the wave of opportunity that is currently sweeping through Bird Rock’s commercial core.

“It’s about where Bird Rock has come from, and where it is going,” Arellano said. “We’ve had a lot of change in the merchant area with new merchants, new restaurants, Long’s is coming in. We see it as a great neighborhood with a lot of opportunity coming. It’s an area you don’t want to miss out on.”

Several Bird Rock eateries will provide food samples for the first three hours of the event. Participating restaurants include Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, Beaumont’s, Bird Rock Yogurt, Bully’s, French Pastry Cafe, Starbucks Coffee, JJ’s Pizza and Deli, La Basil Thai Cuisine, Lupi Italiana Cucina, Midori Sushi and Bahia Don Bravo.

Delirio’s, which bills itself as California cuisine with Baja flavors, is new on the Bird Rock dining scene and will participate in the Taste of Bird Rock for the first time.

The Taste of Bird Rock should be a feast for the ears as well, as three live music acts will cover the three blocks of the event. San Diego band the Lomatones will perform their extensive repertoire of cover songs from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s near the corner of Forward Street and La Jolla Boulevard.

The Tonerators, an eight-member blues and classic rock band made up largely of Bird Rock residents, will play at the corner of Bird Rock Avenue and La Jolla Boulevard, and Kai Brown, a national solo artist who performs acoustic pop covers and original songs, will play all around the festival.

Kids will find their own diversions in the surfing simulator, a giant slide, face painting and other activities.

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Merchants and art galleries along La Jolla Boulevard will also have their doors open for Taste of Bird Rock.

“There will be over 30 merchants with open houses with discounts and giveaways,” Arellano said. “They may hire performers or dj’s inside the stores, or clowns for the kids.”