Kids, arts and fun in downtown Walnut Creek Saturday

Some 8,000 kids, and their adult companions, took over the Lesher Center for the Arts and a block of Locust Street Saturday. The occasion was the 5th annual Chevron Family Theatre Festival.

I was there in my new job, promoting events and theater, music, dance and visual arts at the Lesher Center. As some of you know, I left being editor of Walnut Creek Patch to pursue other writing opportunities. Those opportunities includewriting about arts, one of my passions. For Walnut Creek Patch and for this blog, I’ll write about other things, including my other passion–crime. No, not committing crimes but writing about crime …

Enough about all that. So, I tailed photographer Ben Krantz around as he caught kids and their parents and grandparents having a pretty spectacular time, engaging in kid-friendly fun. Dressing up in Wizard of Oz costumes (courtesy of Diablo Theatre Company); parading around with actors dressed up as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and other favorite fairy tale characters; doing a TV-style quiz show with pirates, and watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom host Peter Gros display raptors, lemurs and some very long and glistening snakes.

My “tough-guy” middle school-aged son has outgrown this sort of thing, but I’m not sure I have. No, I wasn’t tempted to get my face painted but I envied the kids constructing their own puppets, became excited by the bold, athletic thumping of the San Jose Taiko drummers show, and was charmed by the engaging interactive puppet and storytelling performance put on by Sesame Street‘s Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (who hails from Pleasant Hill).

Families came from as far away as Sacramento for what has become one of Walnut Creek’s signature events.

“It’s just seems like a fun, wonderful opportunity for our daughters to enjoy all the characters they have come to know so well from fairy tales and children’s books,” said Rachel Diaz, whose daughters, Graciela, 6, and Gioia, 4, donned ballerina skirts and tiaras. “They like all kinds of arts. They love music, dancing theater and books.”

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