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.

Janet Levaux