On Friday at 3 p.m., the nerds are taking over Redwood City.
But not in the “Revenge” kind of way. These computer geeks are celebrating Nerd New Year 11/11/11 for charity, with a countdown at 11:11 p.m.
These “hack-a-thons” in which Silicon Valley techies get together to code software or build robots that can fetch coffee are typical social gatherings. But on Friday, a happy hour, inflatable slide, people on stilts, a shark tank from the , raffle prizes--and the robot hack-a-thon-- will line Broadway Street to benefit 11 local charities.
In the computer world, everything is built based on a binary sequence, with 1s representing ON and 0 representing OFF.
“Once in a century, the calendar strikes 11/11/11 -- and IT IS ON,” said organizer Adam Rifkin.
Rifkin is an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley who oversees a monthly gathering of 3,600 startup engineers called 106 Miles that frequently chooses Redwood City as its meet-up spot.
Rather than sitting in a secluded, windowless room coding or building things under the name “anonymous,” these computer nerds will head out into the daylight to participate in a friendly hack-a-thon, in which 100 percent of admission prices and raffle tickets will benefit 11 local charities.
"We wanted to invite the rest of Silicon Valley to join us for what might be the Greatest Happy Hour ever in Redwood City," Rifkin said.
Co-organizer John Quaresma hopped on board because he “just loved the idea of getting a bunch of people together in the spirit of hacking and nerdiness and partying, but then it all be for a good cause."
Broadway Street from El Camino Real to Perry Street will be closed from 3 p.m. to midnight, which required a multi-month approval process. The organizers had to get signatures of three-quarters of the businesses on the street and receive feedback from and the . They also secured permits from the San Mateo County Health Department to sell food, and from the Alcohol Beverage Control commission so we can sell beer and mulled wine, according to Rifkin.
“It’s going to be a huge party,” said the third co-organizer Lisa Winter, who expects around 1,000 people. “If I just heard about it, I’d so be there.”
Winter, the Director of Strategic Partnerships, said the organizers hope to raise approximately $10,000 for each charity.
“Charities are really struggling in this bad economy, so that’s why we’re having this event,” Winter said.
Quaresma credited Nerd New Year as Rifkin's "brain child."
“[Rifkin’s] an amazing person with a big heart,” Winter said. “We’re lucky to have someone like that in the Valley who cares.”
And several other donors have also expressed their support for the event, offering an impressive array of raffle prizes. Sports fans can appreciate the chance of winning a San Francisco Giants baseball bat and jersey signed by Pat Burrell and Jonathan Sanchez, respectively. Attendees can also win one of five San Jose Sharks pucks signed by Joe Pavelski, Torrey Mitchell, Ryane Clowe, Antti Niemi or Logan Couture.
Not the biggest Bay Area sports fan? If you like Phil’z Coffee, Pizza and Pipes, bottles of wine, The Counter restaurants or other fun gift certificates, the raffle has something for you. There’s even a Special Edition Bing Crosby Whiskey Bottleup for grabs.
So even if you’re not a nerd, Nerd New Year is clearly the place to be Friday night. And it might just up your cool factor.