It’s All Happening for June

Darlynne & Marc Menkin | Downtown News

Whenever we’re enjoying one of our leisurely walks, we often include the footbridge that goes over Harbor Blvd located just south of the Convention Center. The architectural design is one-of-a-kind and it provides a great shortcut between the Gaslamp Quarter and the Embarcadero.

Darlynne and Marc Menkin

Darlynne and Marc Menkin

We had a recent adventure that involved this unique, tall ship-shaped bridge, a fun puppet show and a lot of laughter.  At this point, you’re probably scratching your head thinking, “What are they talking about?”

We all know how finding a Downtown parking spot at night can sometimes be challenging. Well, if you’re willing to walk, there are usually metered spots available behind the Convention Center, near Joe’s Crab Shack or the Bayfront Hilton. After 6 p.m. it’s free, so that’s even better.

On our way to the puppet show, we walked past some amazing boats at the Hilton’s marina, then eventually made our way across the foot bridge and through one of Petco Park’s lots toward 15th and J streets. By the way, when you get to 13th and J, there’s a wonderful view of the new Central Library, a portion of the Ballpark and part of Downtown’s skyline.  It’s a “Kodak moment.”

On this particular evening, an “Adult Puppet Cabaret” was held at the Space 4 Art, an outdoor venue that showcases all types of artwork and music. A live band performed as guests arrived and drank wine and munched on light snacks. Those who arrived early even got to make their own puppet! As we took our seats, we glanced around and saw a lot of shiny happy people and many were holding their new puppet pals. It was a very different experience and it made us feel like kids again.

The show featured a variety of funny, quirky skits – think Avenue Q but with a hometown flair.

In between performances, guests who created their own puppets earlier in the evening got to take part in the “Puppet-E-Oke” performances.

Produced by Animal Cracker Conspiracy, a company founded in 2006 by Iain Gunn and his fiancée, Bridget Rountree, their website ( “gratefully acknowledges support from The Jim Henson Foundation, the Puppet Slam Network, and The Puffin Foundation.” Gunn anticipates some of the guests who see the show will develop an unexpected passion for puppets.

(l-r) Iain Gunn and Bridget Rountree launched the Adult Puppet Cabaret in 2006. (Courtesy Animal Cracker Conspiracy)

(l-r) Iain Gunn and Bridget Rountree launched the Adult Puppet Cabaret in 2006. (Courtesy Animal Cracker Conspiracy)

The Adult Puppet Cabaret was created out of the couple’s appreciation of short form puppet theatre, and they wanted to foster and build an adult audience community.

The couple is clearly passionate about this unique form of art and it shows during their performance as they banter back and forth and introduce each skit.

“We run a business that is somewhat off-center and we are always interested to hear how other couples come up with a bizarre idea and get people to show up,” said Gunn.

There were over 100 people at the May 17 show at Space 4 Art.

Gunn says his inner artist started at a young age. “I loved to make things when I was a kid,” he said. “I would get the Legos and make what the box showed and then take it apart and make five other things. I also studied science and art, thinking I’d be a painter. When I arrived in San Diego 13 years ago, I met people who were doing puppetry and combining it with different messages.”

The Animal Cracker Conspiracy will be performing their next two shows on July 5th at 3:30 p.m. and July 6at 8 p.m., both at the 10th Avenue Theatre. “The show is about humans’ obsession with objects,” Gunn said.  It was a Best of Fringe Winner at the Fringe Fest in San Francisco in 2012. It’s good to see quirky and colorful ideas getting support. Gunn also mentioned this at the show. “It’s possible to be a little weird and live in San Diego,” he said. He also had some funny comments encouraging people to not have a real job and do what you love.

We want to hear from you – Attend the Summer Luau on June 28 at Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden and have your photo taken with one or two hula dancers in the Polynesian dance performance or the Samoan fire knife show. Email your pictures to by June 29. The most creative photo will win four tickets to an Urban Challenge for Couples and four tickets to a Rent a Local Biking Tour to Secret Spots in Coronado!

The luau will feature a buffet dinner, with entertainment provided by Mendiola Island Productions, a San Diego-based group that has been providing quality island entertainment for special events for over 20 years. The island style event starts up around dusk at 6:30 p.m. on the 28. Be there. Aloha!

Marc & Darlynne Menkin are the co-owners of “Where You Want To Be Tours.” Many of their tours and team-building scavenger hunts feature secret Downtown areas. They can be reached at For more info about their walking, bicycle and bus tours of San Diego, visit


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