Petaluma Pete’s piano is as brightly colored as his act.  They both make me smile. Even when I encounter his piano sitting patiently in its downtown storage space, it reminds me of all the times I have heard and seen Petaluma Pete playing it around downtown Petaluma.  Sometimes Petaluma Pete is working it solo, while other times he is surrounded by kids, singing and dancing and even taking their turn at pounding the ivories.  And it is a rare downtown event that doesn’t bring Petaluma Pete out of hiding.  In my mind Petaluma Pete and his piano are larger than life characters, ranking up there with Clo the Cow. 

Here is the bad news…a downtown property manager has told Petaluma Pete to pay up or ship out; they are renting out the space where he normally stores his piano.  No doubt this is not the end of Petaluma Pete but anything that makes his service to Petaluma harder is shameful.  Even though it is on a cart, pushing around 800 lbs. of maple, steel, and ivory isn’t easy, and he does it both before and after entertaining the masses nonstop for hours on end.


In case you don’t know what Petaluma Pete does for Ptown:

Petaluma Pete promotes Petaluma far outside our city walls.  He is constantly promoting Petaluma as a great place to live and visit.  If he isn’t coming up with new events like the Petaluma Piano Festival he is helping Petaluma get on the map by offer free video services to the winning nominee for the Google Fiber competition (an attempt to get the Google Fiber Network into Petaluma.) 

Petaluma Pete is constantly promoting our downtown events, from Butter and Egg Days to the farmers market, through his Petaluma360 blogs and videos as well as his own attendance.

Petaluma Pete brings art and entertainment to our streets…for free.

Petaluma Pete promotes local music programs for kids.

Petaluma Pete makes excellent videos for adults as well as kids.  I stumbled across his public access channel show on the pianos of Petaluma and was mesmerized.  I had no idea that our downtown houses so many diverse and historic pianos.

Petaluma Pete’s kids’ videos on are wonderful.  They are age appropriate, positive and fun, and always have a valuable life lesson attractively packaged within them.

Petaluma Pete helps us imagine what Petaluma was like during its heyday, the sound of honky-tonk music wafting out of town taverns, mixed with laughter and cheer, bouncing off the brick walls and traveling throughout our historic downtown.

Heck, his parents named him “Petaluma”…how apropos is that?  (What were my parents thinking???)



by Steve Rustad (

Petaluma Pete is one the most positive, good spirited people you will ever meet.  If you don’t believe me check out his eviction video on  Even in the midst of what has to be a stressful situation he puts a positive spin on it telling us that this is a lesson in sharing and that we should all strive to do more of it. 

In the spirit of Petaluma Pete I am going to try to put a positive spin on all this.  (I did say “try.”)  First of all, this confirms that some property managers aren’t interested in our community beyond the money they can make off us.  I know they have a bottom line to worry about but the benefit to the community (by helping Petaluma Pete) far outweighs the loss of an alcove they could reserve for his piano.  Second, I am going to take greater pleasure in the simple things in life.  What Petaluma Pete’s performances do for my mood go way beyond the few minutes I am lucky enough to run into him and his piano.   The final lesson here is to speak up when your gut tells you there is an injustice being perpetrated.  Too often we don’t want to get involved because causes take time and energy and it is easier to just mind our own affairs.  Keep in mind that if we don’t stand up for things like this how can we really expect others to stand up for us when someone is evicting our piano?

This is about community.  Petaluma Pete is the type of “community” that makes Petaluma a great place to live.  Even if you aren’t crazy about piano music, he does so much more than just tickle the ivories along our downtown streets.

by Steve Rustad (

Where do we go from here?  Everyone should put their feelers out to see if we can find a new place for Petaluma Pete to store his piano.  There has to be some local shop owner who recognizes that this type of thing is what it is all about here in Petaluma – people sticking together.  Heck, I bet Petaluma Pete would even be amiable to promoting that shop with a “shout out” from time to time during his performances.  Whoever steps up and helps out Petaluma Pete and his piano are sure to get my family’s business and I would venture to guess a lot of others’ business too.

Thanks Petaluma Pete for all you do for us and our beloved town!  Don’t let this get you down.  Please believe that the downtown property manager booting you is not representative of how the rest of Petaluma feels about you.


Here is a great article about Petaluma Pete by Colleen Rustad of Petaluma360:


Here is Petaluma Pete’s blog page on although his videos appear all over the site:

You can find additional information about Petaluma Pete and the causes he is fighting for, as well as a plethera of videos for your kids, at:

For more great caricatures and insighting into Petaluma visit Steve Rustad’s – “Drawn & Quartered” at Petaluma360’s blogger page. 

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