Brad Prather drives a solar powered vehicle to his doctor's appointment.

PHOTOS BY BETH POTTER / The Press Democrat

If you drive through downtown Petaluma with any frequency, you’re likely to have encountered Brad Prather and his rolling billboard for all things solar.

At 89, Prather motors down city streets at a top speed of 22 miles an hour, perched behind the wheel of a vehicle that looks a lot like a golf cart. It’s actually a street-legal electric vehicle that is licensed and insured, with turn signals, a horn and roof-mounted solar panels. Plus pinwheels and toys driven by small solar-powered motors. Not to mention the Teddy bear riding shotgun.

Passerby Thelma Borces laughs as she pulls a cord, making the large stuffed bear wave.

Prather lives in Petaluma Ecumenical Properties’ Vallejo complex, an affordable housing project for seniors, and has dedicated his golden years to spreading the word about solar power. A retired United Airlines machinist, he supports it because of environmental concerns.

As a great-grandfather, he enjoys translating the message into lessons suitable for children, which may explain his glee each time he reaches for the string attached to his co-pilot’s arm and makes the Teddy bear wave.


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