Here’s what you’ll find at this year’s El Sobrante Stroll
on September 15, 2023
As the summer winds down, El Sobrante gears up for what it calls “The Best DAM Road Block Party in the East Bay.”
The 28th El Sobrante Stroll, set to kick off with a parade at 11 a.m. Sunday at El Portal Drive and San Pablo Dam Road, features a dozen food booths and trucks, around 168 vendors, a car show with close to 200 entries, six live bands and a BMX bike show sponsored by The Pedaler Bike Shop owner Jeff Jerge.
Numerous restaurants along San Pablo Dam will be participating, serving a range of food options. For kids, there will be dedicated play areas and bounce houses.
The event covers nearly everything the community might be interested in, said Scott Tuffnell of Tuffnell & Associates Real Estate, which is the media sponsor. The pandemic halted the Stroll in 2020 and 2021, and rain showed up last year, Tuffnell said.
The Stroll started nearly three decades ago to help locally owned businesses, said Marie Carayanis, one of the organizers with the El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce. As shopping centers popped up in El Sobrante, local merchants began to feel threatened, she said.
“So we decided we needed to do something to promote our downtown business district, which mostly was made up of mom-and-pop family businesses,” she said.
Attendance grew from about 1,000 in the first year to about 20,000 Carayanis said.
Raul Botello, vocalist and keyboardist of Stroll headliners Downtown Rhythm Band, appreciates the intimate setting.
“You can interact with the people a bit better,” he said. “When you have a smaller area, you can walk right up to people.”
Bands and other performers signed up out of a sense of community, Carayanis said.
“It’s all on a volunteer basis, which includes all of our performers and bands and demonstrations, all volunteering and not expecting to be paid,” she said.
For many, especially children, the parade is the highlight, featuring high school marching bands, floats, horses, community groups and organizations, with sponsorship from corporate and small businesses alike.
The event brings an opportunity to “dance, enjoy each other as human beings, have a great time, get a smile on your face,” Botello said. “And hopefully, it’ll stay throughout the week.”
Free parking is at the Park & Ride lot at I-80 and Hilltop Drive, or at the community Moose Lodge at 4660 Appian Way. Free shuttles run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the Stroll wraps up.
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