Like most big cities, Berkeley has a downtown that becomes deserted once office workers flock home at day's end. Rather than let the midtown slide continue, the powers that be decided to revitalize. Addison Street's auto shops were soon transformed into a neighborhood complex of arts-related organizations, and the Downtown Berkeley Arts District was born. Celebrate its grand opening at the Front Row Festival, a gala featuring the classic street-fest trinity of kids' activities, food, and arts and crafts booths. Hear music from such noted acts as Afro-Cuban 10-piece orchestra Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca, hip hop/jazz group Mingus Amungus, and the retro Montclair Women's Big Band. The party starts at noon on Addison between Shattuck and Milvia in Berkeley. Admission is free-$5; call (510) 549-2230 or visit www.downtownberkeley.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Blacktop is not a good teacher. Sure, kids learn that a) falling on it hurts and b) it's not good to eat, but overall, dirt is the superior instructor. Watching plants grow from seeds, observing seasonal changes, and learning how to care for other living things are only a few of the lessons to be taken from a garden plot. "Build an Outdoor Learning Environment" allows volunteers to help change a school's playground area from car-friendly to child-friendly in one day. Do good starting at 10 a.m. at the S.F. Community School, 125 Excelsior (at London), S.F. Admission is free; call (650) 965-0242 or visit www.communityimpact.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
We love "football"
Back in the day, when you didn't have to pay for scrimmage games as part of your season ticket plan, pre-season matches were ill-attended events, televised via tape-delay (usually the next day, opposite M*A*S*H reruns). The focus of such contests was to road-test rookies -- scrubinskis attempting to make the squad and get a good spot in the depth chart. The New Orleans Saints vs. the San Francisco 49ers, though, marks the final hurrah of a once-heated rivalry. The Saints are no longer a part of the NFC West, having been relocated in the realignment of '02. Pay your respects and throw goodbye kisses, as this will be the first year the teams won't square off in a regular-season game. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at 3Com (formerly Candlestick) Park, 602 Jamestown (at Harney), S.F. Admission is $58; call 467-1994 or visit www.sf49ers.com.
-- Kevin Chanel