Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day By the Bay: Wild Jungle Love, Penguins, Doomed Romance

Visitors can watch penguins nabbing red felt hearts to line their nests at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park starting Saturday and running (or penguin-walking) through Monday, Valentine's Day

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Penguins carrying bright red hearts, ostriches in the heat of passion (or at least procreation), doomed romance and the dangers of metallic balloons - if you're looking for an offbeat Valentine's Day, the Bay Area is the place to find it.

Whether coupled, single or Does Not Apply, platonic, tectonic or Masonic, animal, vegetable or mineral (well, maybe not mineral), there's a Valentine's Day event for everyone by the Bay. Just like love, the selection can be dizzying; here are a few samples.

Who could resist a penguin playing Frisbee? Well, it's not quite Frisbee, but visitors can watch the waddlers nabbing red felt hearts to line their nests at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park starting Saturday and running (or penguin-walking) through Monday, Valentine's Day. The birds will be grabbing the hearts (and presumably the visitors' heartstrings) at 10:30 a.m. all three days, and folks can watch for a fee.

The urge to run a mile in one's underwear in in chilly San Francisco in February with thousands of people is doubtless a mystery to some, but irresistible to others. Possessing a deep understanding of this phenomenon, the Children's Tumor Foundation is giving folks the opportunity to do it for a good cause.

The cause: Finding a cure for neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that affects one in every 3,000 children. The race, dubbed Cupid's Undie Run, starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Red's Java House at Pier 30, so get undressed and get on down there - after registering and paying the $45 fee, that is.

Though the LGBTQ community is ubiquitous in the Bay Area, and hence scarcely offbeat, love is what LGBTQ is all about, and Valentine's is all about love. One way to celebrate all three is to rock on down to Rockridge BART for Queer Valentine's Day Sunday in Oakland around 2 p.m. (There are staggered start times at Rockridge BART from 2:00 to 2:45 p.m.)

The event is billed as a neighborhood excursion. Starting at the station on College Avenue, visitors will get a map at the bottom of the escalators and can journey up College and Claremont Avenue, where Valentine-making, poetry and serenades will be underway. The walk ends at John Muir Middle School with an outdoor dance party. The whole shebang is free.

We all know about love's dangers, including a broken heart. However, hearts themselves, at least the metallic blowup kind, can do damage if they come into contact with power lines. Lovers can lose their flesh-and-blood hearts on Valentine's, but when it comes to those metallic ones, Pacific Gas & Electric asks people not to let them get away. "Make sure they are securely tied," the utility urged in an announcement Friday.

Speaking of losing one's heart, people who rue the day they did so have scores of options for bitterness and remorse this Valentine's Day. What exactly this says about the Bay Area, we do not know, but there's an Anti-Valentine's Day Party and a Doomed Valentine's Show in Oakland, and at least one similar event in San Francisco.

The Love Sucks Valentine's Day Show will take place Saturday night in, of all places, serene Petaluma, known for its rural ambience and kind people. The aptly named bands in the heavy metal and indie-rock lineup include Mind's Eye, Ignoring Olivia, Losers Lees, Echolyptus and New Beau. The event is at the Phoenix Theater Saturday night and admission is $10.

For those not recovering from a broken heart or overcome with existential ennui, the Wild Jungle Love tour at Safari West is a safe bet for a good time. The annual Valentine's Day event showcases the mating habits of animals, though it's not guaranteed that visitors will catch them in the act.

Rather, a guide gives an entertaining narration as the participants roll through the African-themed Santa Rosa wildlife preserve. Cost of the tour is $175, the event is happening Saturday and Sunday, and it has happened that ostriches have greeted the visitors in courtship mode -- though at a safe distance.

Speaking of safe distances, it's a good idea to check the websites of the various events for details of COVID-19 protections and protocols in order to arrive prepared. And have a great Valentine's Day!

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