Local Sailor Diana Jessie Passes Away

Alameda-based sailor Diana Jessie passed away on Dec. 15 in her early 70s due to heart failure, according to several online reports.

Jesse, pictured above with her husband Jim on board the vessel Totem, was a circumnavigator, author and historian for the Oakland Yacht Club in Alameda.

She wrote Cruising Woman’s Advisor, was a sailing-seminar speaker and is “credited for inspiring countless dreamers to head over the horizon aboard their own sailboats,” according to Cruising World magazine. A memorial service is being planned for 2012 by her husband at the Oakland Yacht Club.

Jesse began sailing in ’74 and skippered an all-women sailing team on San Francisco Bay, sailing in the Big Boat Series, TransPac, and many other offshore races, according to Latitude 38, which adds that from ’85 to ’92, she and husband Jim traveled around the world on their 48-foot sloop Nalu IV. The couple sailed more than 120,000 miles aboard and spent the past several years living aboard their 53-foot vessel Nalu in Alameda, the Bay Area-based sailing magazine says.

(Thanks to the Totem blogsite for the use of this photo.)


Alameda’s ‘Nutcracker’ a Great Holiday Hit

Over the weekend of Dec. 17-18, the Alameda Civic Ballet staged “The Nutcracker” at Kofman Theater. The show is directed each year by Abra Rudisill, who founded the troupe in 2003.

Guest artists included Nicki and Ethan White, above, who were finalists in the CBS show “Live to Dance” and performed as the Snow King and Queen and as the show’s Arabian dancers.

Alameda resident Mary Grace Basco attended the event with daughter Graciela, 7. “This is the second year I’ve gone,” Mary Grace said, “and the kids like to go every year. It’s a lovely production.”

“How do they do that?” Graciela asked her mother about the intricate foot work. “Then she got the chance to visit with the Spanish-dancing character from the show afterward in the lobby,” said Mary Grace.

Jasmine Miller, who played the role, spoke with children about the performance. “And Graciela got to touch her toe shoes and see how [Jasmine] could get on point. That was exciting,” Mary Grace shared.

Did Graciela like the show? “No, I didn’t like it. I loved it!” said the young Alamedan, who attends Edison Elementary School.


Yacht-Parade Winners Announced

Many thanks to David Esser, who won third place in a recent photo contest hosted by the Bay Area-based boating magazine Latitude 38. Thanks to Esser, and Latitude 38, we can see why the catamaran Wahoo was made the overall winner of the 2011 Oakland-Alameda Estuary Lighted Yacht Parade, which took place on Dec. 3. Gary and Diane Thompson are the proud owners of Wahoo — and the impressive decorators.

This year’s decorating theme was “Cartoon Christmas,” which led one boat team to put a big Bullwinkle up in its rigging.

Other winners in the yacht-decorating contest include Boundless, owned by Cliff and Anna Kramer, which won the top decorating prize in the sailboat category, while Coda, owned by Joan Lunderville, was recognized as the snazziest powerboat.

The Barge, operated by the Jack London Aquatic Center’s Master Women’s Rowing Team received recognition for its entry in the Cartoon Christmas-themed event, as well.

Many congratulation to these and other winners, as well as the event organizers and key sponsors – Celebrations on the Bay and Stem to Stern boating services. And thanks for hosting such a popular, fun-filled aquatic event, which is held to encourage members of the Island community to enjoy the holidays on and off the water – and to and raise donations for the Oakland Firefighters Random Acts and the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

For a complete list of this year’s lighted yacht-parade go the the event’s website.

© 2011 David Esser


Makani Power Hosts Holiday Event

Alameda Point-based Makani Power held its annual holiday event on Friday, Dec. 16, with a crowd of several hundred visitors and a few dozen employees.

The affair included a live band (Erin Brazill and the Brazillionaires) and also a short video on the company’s wind-turbine technology. Another highlight was the appearance of several small planes drifting around the area lit up by neon tubing.

Donations for the Alameda Community Food Bank were collected.

Makani, which is based in the former Naval Air Station’s control tower and facility, shares the building with Natel Energy, a maker of hydro-power technology.


‘Nutcracker’ on Stage This Weekend

WHAT: Alameda Civic Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
WHEN: 2 p.m., Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 17-18
WHERE: Kofman Theater, 2200 Central Ave., Alameda
COST: $18-$28
TICKETS: 800-838-3006, 510-337-1929 or http://alamedanutcracker.com, https://www.goldstar.com/

For the seventh year in a row, Alameda Civic Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” ballet at the Kofman Theatre at 2 p.m. on December 17 and 18. The roles of the Snow Queen and King will be performed by Nicki and Ethan White, who were finalists in the CBS show “Live to Dance” with Paula Abdul and are now with White Tree Fine Arts.

“This is a family favorite,” said Abra Rudisill, artistic director of the Alameda Civic Ballet, in an interview in early December, noting that the cast includes about 150 performers (who range from age 4 to about 65).

Alameda’s production is staged by Rudisill, an Alameda resident who started Alameda Civic Ballet in 2003. She performed for about 20 years as a prima ballerina and ballet mistress with the Oakland Ballet. “The Nutcracker,” she says, is an ideal way for young dancers to work with professionals.

“Each year, we change some of the lead performers, but we also try to give the show some continuity,” said Rudisill. “We always build on the previous year’s production with updated choreography, costumes and more, so that every year there is something different about the show.”

The role of Clara is being performed by Alameda resident and Alameda High School student Isabel Saxty, as well as by Lili Pigott, a student at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland who lives in Alameda. Alamedan Cedric Murphy will take the stage as Fritz.

In addition to including most students who take classes at the Alameda Ballet Academy, the show also features some performers who study dance in other parts of the Bay Area. About a dozen adults from Alameda Vintage Dancers will also participate in the production, under the direction of Denise Brady.

Along with the Whites, other professional dancers in Alameda’s 2011 performance of “The Nutcracker” include Oliver Freeston as the Nutcracker Prince and Toy Soldier, and Jackie McConnell as the Sugar Plum Fairy; both are members of Company C in Walnut Creek. Also performing in the production are professional guest artists Robert Dekkers as the Sugar Plum Cavalier, as well as David Henry and Roy Gan.

Some local organizations supporting the Alameda Civic Ballet production include Tucker’s Ice Cream , as well as Alameda Theatre and Cineplex, Alameda South Shore Center and the Alameda County Arts Commission. (Tucker’s is sponsoring the Sugar Plum Parties and is also hosting a “name that flavor” contest, which provides free tickets to some winners.)

Tickets are available online and before the performance.


Lighted Boat Parade Attracts Festive Crowd

There were lots of Alamedans along the waterfront Saturday night from about 5:30 to 7 p.m., during the annual Lighted Yacht Parade, which was held to entertain residents and generate support for the Alameda County Community Food Bank and the Oakland Firefighters Random Acts.

About two dozen yachts paraded up and down the Oakland-Alameda Estuary for the event.

Many Alameda families brought folding chairs and pets to the festivities, including a group of about 40 people who congregated near the headquarters of Wind River software (now owned by Cisco Systems).

Along the docks inside the harbor, there were planned and impromptu gatherings of party-goers. The Encinal and Oakland yacht clubs hosted their annual parties, as well.

The theme of the lighted-boat parade — “A Cartoon Christmas” — led one yacht owner to decorate his or her vessel with the character Bullwinkle J. Moose. There were tunes for the “Scooby Doo” cartoon series playing on another sailboat.

Some private vessels full of partygoers moved up and down the waterfront, occassionally blowing the powerboats’ horns. This prompted at least one local powerboat owner who stayed behind at the docks to toot his (or her) extremely loud horn, as well — making for quite a booming symphony of noise on and near the Estuary.

No word yet on the winners of the decorating contest.


Alameda Jazz Concert to Celebrate Community Spirit

What: Passion for Compassion Concert & Fund-Raiser
When: 3-8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4
Where: Bayside Pavilion, 2203 Mariner Square Loop
Cost: $22
Info: 510-689-4621, www.seedartistusa.com

Alameda-born Santo Prieto was down on his luck and living in his car in a parking lot near the High Street Bridge, about two years ago. His pockets were empty, and one of his knees needed surgery.

“But then I was lucky enough to receive unemployment benefits,” said Prieto. “I was able to get through this time by realizing how much we all need to help each other and wanted to host a concert to give back to the community that supported me.”

Prieto’s dream will become a reality this Sunday afternoon at Bayside Pavilion on Mariner Square Loop, when he hosts a concert entitled “Passion for Compassion” to benefit the Bay Area chapter of the American Red Cross. “I hope to get people in the holiday spirit. We can kick it off with music and understanding,” said Prieto.

The concert will feature a variety of jazz and Latin music, as well as dancing and refreshments. It will also launch a music CD by the group Mirage, also called “Passion for Compassion.”

“The Red Cross helped me when I was in need,” said Prieto, who now works and lives near the San Francisco Bay in Richmond. “The organization gave me permission to give the concert and use their name for it, so I’m hoping to help raise donations for its Bay Area chapter.”

“It’s really a dream come true to celebrate how lucky I’ve been and to share the stage with some special guest musicians and friends,” Prieto added. “It’s a beautiful thing to do — to help each other. It’s something we can all do, so I wanted to spread the word that we can survive by supporting each other – with compassion.”

In addition to the East Bay-group Mirage, there will be performances by Latin Overdrive of Oakland, playing smooth jazz, and N Rumba of Salinas, which includes about 11 musicians and plays salsa. “Mirage has musicians – including one of my brothers — playing bass, drums, keyboards, saxophone, horns, timbales, conga drums and some Brazilian instruments,” said Prieto.

“We will have some guest musicians join us for an all-star jam at about 7 or 7:30 p.m.,” he explained. These musicians include Chazz Ally, Gabriel Del Rosario, Juan Escovedo, Mio Flores, Tony Flores, Moe Prieto, Gibby Ross and Bobby Simcox. The emcee for the show is Carlos Prieto, another brother of Santo.

Tickets are $22 and can be bought at the door or online.


Lighted Yacht Parade Set for Tonight

What: Lighted Yacht Parade
When: 5:30-6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3
Where: Oakland-Alameda Estuary

The 35th-annual Lighted Yacht Parade takes place at dusk today along the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.

The event is hosted by the Encinal Yacht Club, Oakland Yacht Club and Marina Village Yacht Harbor. The event sponsors are Celebrations on the Bay and Stem to Stern.

The theme for this year’s yacht parade – which starts at about 5:30 p.m. — is “A Cartoon Christmas.” And the event benefits the Alameda County Food Bank and Oakland Firefighters Random Acts.

There is good viewing in the area near Pasta Pelican Restaurant at 2455 Mariner Square Drive.


City Tree Lighting, Holiday Celebration Promises Family Fun

What: Hometown Holiday Celebration & Mayor’s Tree Lighting
When: 1–6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3
Where: City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave., and the nearby parking lot (on Oak Street)

Today promises lots of lights, cameras and action around City Hall, when the City of Alameda hosts its annual Hometown Holiday Celebration and Mayor’s Tree Lighting. Activities include sleigh riding, ice skating and picture-taking with Santa Claus.

“We’ve been doing this for well over 20 years,” said Patrick Russi, recreation supervisor for the Alameda Recreation and Park Department, which is sponsoring the synthetic ice rink in cooperation with the Alameda Public Works Department. “It’s definitely a great way to kick off the holiday season.”

Santa should arrive before the tree-lighting activities begin at 5:30 p.m. He will appear on stage, along with the Dancing Christmas Trees, Mistle Tones and a community band.

“There will be music and good photo opportunities, so everyone can leave with a big smile on their faces – which is what it’s all about at this time of year,” Russi said.

The ice rink will be open from 1 to 5 p.m., and groups of 35 skaters will be allowed on the synthetic ice for 20 minutes. “We’ve had pre-registration for this and will be allowing some walk-in skaters, too,” said Russi. “Generally, it gets more crowded as the afternoon progresses, so I would suggest that residents come early.”

Sleigh rides and arts-and-crafts activities will be available from 2 to 5 p.m., on a first-come, first-served basis. “We can accommodate about five or six people per ride, which goes around the block,” Russi explained. “We have to give the horses breaks, especially before Santa’s grand entrance.”

Members of Alameda Youth Collaborative will also be on hand in the afternoon to help children make reindeer puppets, ornaments, jeweled crowns, jingle-bell necklaces and popsicle-stick Christmas trees. Plus, short performances of “Musical Macbeth” by Alternatives in Action’s West Alameda Community Programs are set to take place between 3 and 5 p.m.

Mayor Marie Gilmore will light the city’s Christmas tree. She and other officials will also accept a 100 Best Communities for Young People Award, for the second year in a row, from America’s Promise Alliance.

“There should be lots of good, positive energy and family fun at the events,” shared Russi.


Language School to Open on Bay Farm

Bay Language Academy is opening tonight, Friday, December 2, at 5:30 p.m. at 2205 Harbor Bay Parkway in Alameda.

According to the language school’s website, “We aim to provide proficiency and fluency in French, Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Hebrew, Farsi and English as a Second Language (ESL). Other languages may be offered based on demand, so please contact us if you would like a class offered. We will make every effort to open a class suitable to your needs. Language SAT prep, and Chinese calligraphy are two of our more recent offerings. Our class schedule is available, you could also contact us by pre-registering to check availability within a certain class. Class sizes are restricted to ensure the best education possible.”

The language school is located in the former Quilt Fans shop at the intersection of Harbor bay Parkway and North Loop Road.

The school can be reached at 510-306-4229.