sunst.8.22.jpgSan Francisco’s sea lions may have tourist appeal, but this weekend locals will be celebrating another web-footed member of the animal kingdom – the penguin.

Upper Great Highway and parts of Golden Gate Park will close to vehicle traffic Sunday for this month’s installment of the popular Sunday Streets program, dubbed “Penguins to Penguins” for how it traverses past the California Academy of Sciences to the San Francisco Zoo.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, dancers and skaters will have 4.1 miles of car-free pavement to explore along the Great Highway route, which stretches from the eastern entrance of Golden Gate Park along John F. Kennedy Drive before heading south alongside the ocean to Sloat Boulevard.

Although there will not be any actual penguins roaming the route, participants can expect to encounter penguin-themed games, arts and crafts and other all-ages activities.

Sunday’s event will be the second time this year that Sunday Streets returns to the western part of San Francisco – the route was last featured on April 11.

The remaining two events this season will introduce new routes in the Western Addition on Sept. 19 and the Civic Center-Tenderloin on Oct. 24, when Mayor Gavin Newsom will announce plans for the 2011 season.

The program has grown from two events in 2008 to a total of nine Sunday Streets events this year in its third season.

San Francisco has produced more car-free events than any other major city, according to a statement issued Friday by the mayor’s office in which Newsom lauded the events for promoting healthy, active lifestyles and bringing together neighborhoods.

Growing attendance at the events also led to an extension of street closures, with traffic resuming at 3 p.m. at this year’s events compared to 2 p.m. previously.

Scheduled events include a Chihuahua meetup, a skating tour of the route, live music and traditional Chinese lion dance performances by the West Coast Lion Dance crew, among others.

Information about activities and street closures can be found at

Sunday Streets is a concerted effort between city agencies and non-profit organizations that is presented by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the city.

“It’s a natural fit for our agency, which continually seeks to promote sustainable transportation in San Francisco,” SFMTA Executive Director and CEO Nat Ford said in a statement.

Livable City, a local transportation-oriented nonprofit, manages daily operations, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition coordinates the more than 150 volunteers who monitor intersections and act as event stewards.

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