Winterblast a tribute to the arts along Santa Rosa's A Street

  • Eliana Green, 8, plays with a lighted hula-hoop on South A Street during the Winterblast Festival.

Dawn Sawyer meant it as a compliment when she described Saturday night's Winterblast celebration in Santa Rosa as a "crazy freak show."

The "Hubbub Club" marching band was in full swing outside the South A Street photo gallery where Sawyer and her husband posed for pictures with their 3-month-old son, Jack.

Trailing the band, people pushed sofas decorated with colorful lights and bric-a-brac.

The sofa parade, which is a riff on the South A Street Arts District (SOFA) name, is always a highlight of Winterblast, which on its seventh anniversary Saturday night continued to defy easy description.

It's basically an open house for the many art galleries in the neighborhood near A Street and Sebastopol Road, and a street party in which all are welcome to join in.

"It's looser this year," Shirley Johnston said as she and her 16-year-old son, Bryce Anderston, danced on the sidewalk.

Real world concerns were on display outside Brino Ism's gallery where the word "Occupy" was spray-painted on large panels that hung on a fence.

Ism, who lives above the gallery, said he commissioned the artwork and created some of his own with similar themes to support ongoing "Occupy" protests in Santa Rosa and around the nation.

Ism said he lived through the Vietnam War and Civil Rights protests but he said the Occupy movement is different in that it's affecting "every city in the country."

The Sawyers, who live near South A Street, said the Winterblast celebration is good for the neighborhood.

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