Loved to death?
Let’s talk about our communal living room.
Acre-for-acre the Sonoma Plaza is indisputably the most popular piece of real estate in the Valley.
It is also one of the most cherished historic sites in California.
It is a haven for contemplation, communion, celebration and recreation. It has acres of grass and trees, flowers and playgrounds, picnic places and the premier duck pond in Wine Country. It’s got everything but a Jumbotron on the back of City Hall.
It’s like a collective backyard and an outdoor living room.
And unless we’re careful we may just love it to death.
The Tuesday night farmers market has become a jubilant city party with unprecedented crowds.
In May, the inaugural Echelon Gran Fondo Sonoma drew nearly 3,000 pedalers and partiers, and it packed the Plaza.
The 2012 Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon two weeks ago more than doubled that throng and the subsequent party filled the Plaza from top-to-bottom and side-to-side.
The July 4 Parade and party drew so many people to Sonoma they exceeded anyone’s ability to accurately count them, but estimates exceeded the city’s population and those untold thousands left in their multitudinous wake a mountain of trash and countless complaints of abusive, boorish and drunken behavior.
Cleaning up the mess taxed the city’s limited resources and the police dodged a bullet when a gang-related melee that could have gone ballistic was quickly and expertly controlled.
And that brings us to the next big bash – the annual City Party, in the Plaza tonight.
There are some simple “dos” and “don’ts” that should guide everyone’s actions and behavior, outlined by city authorities who hope and pray the public will cooperate.
Don’t: Rope off your private space; bring large furniture like sofas and tables; drive stakes into the ground; bring barbecues with open flames; spread out tarps in advance (they kill the grass); let children harass the ducks; climb trees; bring dogs; or harass the over-worked parks staff.
Do: Model appropriate behavior for your children and other adults; pack out what you bring in; attempt to achieve zero waste by taking your wine bottles and other recyclables home with you; pick up for others and politely ask those you see littering if they behave that way at home; don’t over-imbibe and if you see people exhibiting drunken behavior, find a cop – they’ll be around; love the ducks by leaving them alone; sing the praises of the volunteers who make the party happen, notably including the Sonoma Community Center, which sponsors the event, the Native Sons of the Golden West who perform endless volunteer acts, ROLO – the citizens group that recently cleaned up Valley Cemetery, and the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, which will serve the beer and wine that helps pay for the party.
More than anything else, think of the people at the party as members of your family and think of the Plaza as a part of your home. Then – unless you’re used to littering your own living room or abusing your spouse and children – treat both accordingly.
And have a wonderful time – it’s your party.