The house I grew up in is right around the corner from The Good Life Grocery, across from where the annual Potrero Hill Festival’s petting zoo was always stationed. I liked to get there early, to see what animals were in the enclosure, and feed them a few bites of kibble before they were overstuffed by heavy-handed toddlers, which usually happened by mid-morning. Then I was off to the Good Life stand, always festively decorated. I idolized those who worked there as only a kid can idolize a nineteen year old. It was always strange and exciting to see them even just a few yards outside the store.
Frequently visiting with the Good Lifer’s and schmoozing their way along 20th Street were the people-about-town, including the store’s owners, Kayren and Lester, who functioned as local institutions and my personal watchmen, making me feel safe as a young kid running solo errands in the neighborhood.
I’d be on the lookout for the festival clown, who I idolized even more than the Good Life staff. I thought his banana on a leash was the cleverest thing I’d ever seen; if he asked me to pick colors for my balloon bunny I was almost too star struck to answer.
After weaving through a row of white tents selling jewelry, fresh pressed juice and local services, I found the stage, which framed our cinematically famous view of the city skyline. The music was a magnetic pull, funneling kids and adults towards it in step with the rhythm.
I remember the platform giving way to a few more rows of white tents dispensing crafts and chair massages before the whole festive situation culminated in an area of bouncy houses, dunk tanks, and other kids in revelry. This street was so commonly traversed by me and my siblings en route to the library, Dave’s or All State’s for popsicles, and farther up the hill to my nana’s, that to see it transformed into something so solely celebratory was very exciting.
I hope the next generation of Potrero Hill kids who live in a city so changed get to spend a technology-free moment among the beautiful views, shiny people, and lasting traditions that make this neighborhood such a special place in which to grow up.
The 29th Annual Potrero Hill Festival will take place on Saturday, October 20th from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and benefits the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House on 20th Street, between Wisconsin and Missouri streets. Admission is Free. For more information: www.potrerofestival.com.