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Derek Reckley (right) and his friend Jessica Starodoj enjoy lunch by the triceratops fountain on the Third Street Promenade on Thursday afternoon. (photo by Brandon Wise)

Editor’s Note: This is a series in which Daily Press writers overhear and observe happenings around Santa Monica.

DOWNTOWN — A girl in a yellow halter top sits on the edge of the ivy-covered triceratops fountain on the Third Street Promenade. She runs her fingers through her curly brown hair as the wind lifts it gently.

The street is packed with people, however, and her peaceful moment is short-lived.

“Mommy, take a picture of me right there!” a young boy shouts, clambering past the seated woman. His sister stands on the other end of the fountain, framing the shot.

A moment later, the girl is joined by her perturbed boyfriend, who examines the bottom of his foot and speaks forcefully in a foreign language.

Lots of different languages can be heard on the promenade. It’s early evening on Wednesday, and the tourists are out in force.

“You know what?” a woman pushing a stroller says wearily to the rest of her family. “How about we walk around just a little bit longer?”

Outside J.Crew, a girl consults at least two generations of female family members about a potential purchase.

“I’m gonna go see if they have bigger sizes,” she says, flapping her arms impatiently.

A couple converses over a locked bike with a small dog in its basket. A man holds two Starbucks drinks as his companion digs through her purse. Near Fatburger, another man uses a pay phone — a rare sight these days.

“Never use anyone else’s eye make-up!” a woman lectures her daughter outside Sephora. “You can get an infection.”

A few people out on the promenade today are on the job. Downtown ambassadors in red shirts, khaki shorts and straw hats cruise up and down the sidewalks, looking for rule-breakers — one asks a man on his cell phone to extinguish a cigarette — or those in need of assistance.

“Excuse me, ma’am, is he bothering you?” one jokingly asks a female street musician who is conversing with another ambassador.

At the Dance Zone cart, a vendor taps his foot as he plays techno favorite “Sandstorm” for passersby. A walk up and down the promenade exposes tourists and locals alike to many different kinds of music — radios blast from inside stores, and street performers play guitar, saxophone and even some traditional Russian instruments.

“I’ve got my little audience here,” comments one performer as he finishes a rendition of the “Pink Panther” theme song that caught the attention of several young children. “VIP seating?”

A woman in a skirt that clinks and jingles as she walks sings to herself as she passes two teenage brothers playing guitar. They’ve traveled all the way from Madison, Wis., to draw a small crowd.

Other youngsters are enjoying their last free summer days. The boys dutifully walk their bikes along the pedestrians-only street. Groups of girls share benches, huddling over their shopping bags, or head back from the beach in their bikinis.

“Crybaby! Wah! Wah!” a girl in the middle of one such group bursts out, plenty loud enough for her friends and anyone else nearby to hear. “Lame!” she adds, crossing and uncrossing her lime green Converse-clad feet.

For an unfortunate few, school has already started. A boy wearing a blue backpack walks resignedly beside a girl carrying a formidable stack of textbooks. Her plain beige skirt rests a few inches above her knees, both too long and too short to be considered fashionable.

A young boy and his father share an early dinner at Yankee Doodle’s. In between bites, the boy roars and growls at passing pigeons.

“I scared it!” he shouts triumphantly as one hurriedly waddles away from him.

Some people are out trying to gather signatures or raise money for various causes.

“Can I have five minutes of your time today, ladies?” one asks. “Oh, I guess not. Have a nice day just the same.”

Still more are out simply to panhandle.

“Dreaming of a burger,” reads the front of one man’s sign. “Why lie, I need a beer,” the back reveals.

“Struggling to support two wives, three mistresses, 12 children and one very ugly dog,” another man’s sign proclaims.

A group of women speaks excitedly in an eastern European language as they head back to the parking garage. One word and hand motion is recognizable in any language, however.

“Hi-yah!” one shouts, playfully slapping her friend.

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