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News - June 26, 2013

Diaper Derby steals show

by Sam Borsos

A race of infant crawlers was a highlight of the Menlo Park downtown block party, held June 19 on Santa Cruz Avenue and sponsored by the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce.

          The diaper derby 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 to 9 p.m.

"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."

Three crawlers competed in the finals: 1-year-old Alexander "Zander" Reece of Menlo Park, who won the third round to qualify for the finals; 8-and-a-half-month-old Tyler Whitlin from Mountain View, who took the second round; and 10-month-old Desmond Cardoin from Menlo Park, who came out on top in the first round.

In the final event, after a dramatic crawl near the finish line followed by a turnaround to nearly back where he started, Baby Zander finally crossed the finish line first and into the arms of his mother, Mara Giattina. "It was pretty great considering we were a last-minute entry," she said. Zander was entered 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 West Bay Sanitary District sponsored the diaper derby.

Among other block activities, 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.

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.

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

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."


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