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Menlo Park: Diaper derby steals show

Click on photos to enlarge and see captions.

By Sam Borsos

Special to the Almanac

It was a landslide victory for 1-year-old Alexander "Zander" Reece, who crawled his way to victory Wednesday (June 19) in the first-ever diaper derby race at a Menlo Park downtown block party, held on Santa Cruz Avenue.

The mini-race took place on a rainbow gymnastic mat amid a sea of balloons, bubbles, bike taxis, bouncy slides and live music that painted the streets of Santa Cruz Avenue, which was closed to traffic from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The diaper derby was sponsored by the West Bay Sanitary District.

"When I was a kid, I went to a county fair that had a diaper derby," said Councilman Ray Mueller, the master of ceremonies for the block party and diaper-derby race announcer. "It brings back wonderful memories with my family."

Baby Zander, who won the third round to qualify for the finals, competed against two other finalists: 8-and-a-half-month-old Tyler Whitlin from Mountain View, who won the second round; and 10-month-old Desmond Cardoin from Menlo Park, who came out on top in the first round. After a dramatic crawl near the finish line followed by a turnaround to nearly back where he started, Zander finally crossed the finish line to his mother.

"It was pretty great considering we were a last-minute entry," Mara Giattina, Zander's mother said. The Menlo Park resident entered her son in the competition right before his crawling debut, rather than online beforehand. "I wish he would've clapped for himself at the end," she said.

The diaper derby was one of many highlights of this seventh Menlo Park downtown block party, hosted by the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce. Children's activities such as basketball hoops, balloon animal-making and jumping houses centered around the second annual Facebook community stage, which hosted much of the entertainment at the block party including the diaper derby.

Five bands lined the street: the Buffalo Chips, Acoustic Son, Blue, the Raytones and The Member. On the Fremont Park stage, Livewire Band performed rock and pop music in the first in a series of summer concerts in the park.

"The block party keeps getting better and better every year," Brian Flegel, board member of the Chamber of Commerce and block party chairman, said. "It's only as good as what people bring."

Mr. Flegel, who has helped put on the event since its start in 2007, is manager at Flegel's Home Furnishings on Santa Cruz Avenue. He and Dexter Chow, the owner of the Cheeky Monkey toy store just down the street, both help organize the block party. Mr. Flegel said the goal is to support local businesses and nonprofit organizations, while at the same time bringing together the community in downtown Menlo Park.

His favorite part of the block party, he said, is interacting and connecting with people. "I like that it has no rules. You can bring your dog, your family – I've seen people dress up in costumes. It takes on a life of its own."

See video "Vine" on Twitter: 1-year-old Zander Reece crawls to victory in the final round of the diaper derby race at Menlo Park block party.

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