Montclair merchants and community groups are hoping residents will celebrate the end of tax season and spring cleaning with a spring stroll through the Village for tastings at some 20 restaurants and shops on April 24.

The fourth-annual event will include live music provided by students at Montera Middle School and Skyline High School. It is co-sponsored by the Montclair Lions Club and the Montclair Village Association, with proceeds to benefit local charities.

"We should have a group of Montera jazz musicians playing near Safeway and a string trio from Skyline up at Village Square, where Italian Colors is," said Howard Neal, volunteer chair of the event and a member of the Lions Club. "We also hope some Skyline Marching Band members will make an appearance, though none of the streets will be blocked off."

Proceeds will go to the Oakland Fund for the Arts, Boy Scouts, music programs at Montera and Skyline, as well as to charities supported on a regular basis by Lions Clubs in the area. This includes groups that focus on eyesight and vision, as well as the Lincoln Child Center, Fred Finch Youth Center and other nonprofit groups, according to Neal.

The yearly affair, which began in 2009, attracts more than 400 people. "It's really a fun event, with lots of people out on the streets, moving around quickly between the restaurants and shops that serve hors d'oeuvres and snacks," explained Neal. "You bump into people you know, so there's lots of camaraderie."


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Jeff Diamond, owner of Farmstead Cheeses & Wines, says that up to a third of those coming into the store during the restaurant event are first-time visitors. Plus, about a third of those visitors come back after the event for shopping and food or wine tasting.

"The event is something that merchants like me really look forward to," said Diamond. "And as a Montclair resident, I wonder why I never participated in it earlier. People have a great time. It's a good event for a good cause and a win-win for everyone." Guests should pick up a $25 ticket book for the event soon, organizers say, because they usually sell out about 10 days before the walk. Some of the 2012 participants are Amba, Crogan's, El Agavero, Farmstead Cheese & Wine, Kakui Sushi, Montclair Baking, Montclair Bistro and Oni Sushi.

To buy tickets (in the form of a passport book) in advance, go to Montclair Book Tree at 6121 La Salle Ave., US Bank at 1998 Mountain Blvd., Wheels of Justice at 2042 Mountain Blvd., Safeway at 2096 Mountain Blvd., Viewpoint at 2069 Mountain Blvd. and the Montclair Vet Hospital at 1961 Mountain Blvd.

"Make a night of it!" Neal said. "Many of our fine retailers, bars and eateries will also be open during and after the event."

IF YOU GO
What: Montclair Village Restaurant Walk
When: 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday,
April 24
Where: Montclair Village and
Village Square
Cost: $25