So the Bay Area lost its bid to host the 2012 Olympics. We still landed the 2003 U.S. Youth Games -- in your face, New York! This weekend, more than a thousand American kids (chaperones in tow) converge on San Francisco for the annual games, which began in New York in 1967 as a wholesome outlet for urban youngsters and have since expanded to over a dozen U.S. cities.
In this competition, boys and girls ages 13 to 15 test their mettle in regular Olympic events like track and field, swimming, tennis, and basketball; "irregular events" (and we do mean irregular) include bowling and trivia, which might give us pause if it weren't for the Olympics' inclusion of rhythmic gymnastics. Athletes spend their off hours sightseeing -- either a warning or a promise, depending on your demographic. The games unfold in venues citywide this week; the "Parade of Cities," modeled after Olympic opening ceremonies, begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street). Admission is free; call 831-2783 or visit www.usyouthgames.com.
-- Heather Wisner
Writing on the Walls
The acclaimed Precita Eyes muralists are busy doing what they do best: getting the community out to see, appreciate, and make art. The center's Urban Youth Arts Festival is jammed full of the kinds of activities and groups that make people look back on their lives and say, "That was the first time I really thought about art" -- or dancing, or poetry. What kid with a brain doesn't want to flow like the Youth Speaks slammers? Who wouldn't be into break dancing? And setting up space for aerosol art is just plain amazing. Tons of DJs and punk rock bands are scheduled, plus a puppet show. The main event, though, is the live mural creation, and everyone is invited to help out. Organizers also insist there'll be lots of free food, starting at 1 p.m. at Precita Park, Precita & Folsom, S.F. Admission is free; call 285-2287 or visit www.precitaeyes.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Clay is the best material to play with: First it's like a rock, and then you add water and it turns into a cross between mud and plastic. It would be the perfect thing for kids to fool around with, if it weren't such a huge mess. Making pinch pots, sculptures, and coils requires ample space, a special kiln, and big sinks to wash up in. Fortunately, that's exactly what you'll find at the one-hour Ceramics Open Studio. Don't fuss about the muss, starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds (at Murray), Sausalito. Admission is $12; call 487-4398 or visit www.baykidsmuseum.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser