Winterblast returns, but is cut short when the ball hits the power line

Did you think Black Friday marked the start of the holiday season? Think again. In Santa Rosa, it’s Winterblast.

Hundreds of people showed up to let loose, get in the holiday spirit – and shop – on Saturday in the southern arts district of A Street for the annual event which was canceled last year in due to the pandemic.

People gathered to watch two parades, check out unique art studios and stores, dance to music from several bands and a DJ, and savor food from local restaurants. The unusual parades, which feature ornate sofas on wheels as a nod to the arts district known as SOFA, included a Christmas-themed mishmash of floats, cyclists, fairies and queens and Winter. There was a costumed Frosty the Snowman (beautiful artist Alina Nuebel) walking the parade route and posing for selfies with parade participants and watchers.

The atmosphere was festive and people were having fun.

But Winterblast was a blast in more ways than one. The second parade had just ended when there was an explosion, which sounded like a transformer blown on a power pole, at 8:19 p.m. There was a shower of sparks and everything went black. The lights were off all along Santa Rosa Avenue, south of Juilliard Park to Costco on Santa Rosa Avenue. People were shouting, clapping and taking pictures with their phones as the couches passed, and when the explosion happened, some shouted even louder.

The outage affected power users in the southeast part of the county and was caused by a Mylar balloon hitting a power line, according to PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras. Power was restored to all 3,609 customers in Santa Rosa as of 8:45 p.m., she said.

Speaking ahead of the event, organizer Bob Stender, owner of Tibidabo Photography on South of A Street for 32 years, said he was pleased to be in charge of this year’s SOFA district event after a interruption in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“It’s such a great gift for the city. I was one of the initiators,” Stender said. “I love the idea. I grew up in Santa Rosa and it was kind of a boring place to live. I wanted to change that for my kids and grandkids, so here we are!

Stender laughed at the idea that the city had just been ranked among the top 10 places to live in the United States.

“I never would have guessed that,” he said.

Amy Loukonen of Santa Rosa, part of the Sonoma County Biker Chicks fairy contingent, said the women wore homemade fairy costumes for Halloween and persuaded them to add lights, decorate a sofa with stars and well-lit bicycle wheels and enter the parade. . They cycled with the Kruisers of North Bay, organizers of the Taco Tuesday Ride.

“I’ve wanted to do this since I first came to the parade,” Loukonen said, standing with Benny the Boston terrier, who rode the couch float in his sweater. “They made my dream come true.”

Another group of women, from Sevastopol, decorated a chair as a throne with white faux fur, white feathers and other accessories. All wore shimmering white dresses and took turns playing a winter queen, Kalina Rose said. Rose, who wore a feather headband and a red, gold and white sequined mask, said she made the throne with her friend, Monnett Zubieta, who was adorned in white ribbons with flashing white lights and wore gloves colored turn signals.

“We all dress in white on Halloween, and we decided to tweak it and make it wintery,” said fellow band member Nina Carson.

Several doctors assembled a floating couch with a sign that read “Get Your Shot,” emphasizing the need for everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine, especially children aged 5 to 11 who were recently approved.

“Many of us are thrilled that our children have the opportunity” to get vaccinated, said Dr. Veronica Jordan, who was there with her sons, Jonah, 6, and Dillon, 11, as well as Bryanna, 4 and a half years. “It’s been a long year and a half for people with young children.”

The open house allowed Winterblast enthusiasts to take advantage of special offers at the various stores in the Arts District, including Avalow Nurseries and Gardens, where co-owner Jeremy Nusser said, “We’re doing a special on rare plants and garden-themed gifts. We want to make sure that all of our plant lovers get what they want on their personal wishlist. »

One store, a new venture called Heritage Alchemy, had cheerful little Christmas trees in its window. It has a refill station with dispensers so you can reuse your plastic or glass bottles with hand soap, dish soap, shower gel, laundry detergent or shampoo. They also sell sustainable health and beauty products and home decor.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” said company director Erin Sweeney. “We love being part of this neighborhood and being part of this event, especially since a lot of the art created here has to do with recycling used materials, which is in line with our mission. We get an increase (in sales) of that, and it’s a great way to connect with the community. We want to steer people away from single-use plastic.

Along the parade route, some wore costumes, including Liz Cozine of Santa Rosa, wearing her aunt’s poofy white petticoat and a large clock attached to a black waistcoat and belt.

“I remind people to go back tonight,” she said.

Two women, Lorene Romero of Windsor and Lee Ann Sachi of Santa Rosa, said it was their first time in Winterblast and Romero’s first time in the SOFA district.

“I discovered a whole other world that I didn’t know existed,” she said.

You can contact editor Kathleen Coates at