On Saturday, Dec. 15, the Alameda community celebrated a historic occasion with the grand opening of Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.
The 25-acre park is located on the former Alameda Belt Line Railroad property on the west side of the island. The site now includes open space areas and active uses such as a natural based playground, picnic pavilion and a segment of the Cross Alameda Trail for bicyclists and pedestrians.
On Dec. 5, 1867, California Governor Henry Huntly Haight used his inaugural speech to rail against the citizenship and voting rights of formerly enslaved Africans and Asians and immigration from Asia.
Some 150 years later, on Dec. 5, 2017, I contacted the Haight Elementary School PTA and encouraged them to initiate the process to rename Haight. Students and parents petitioned to rename the school. The Haight Renaming Committee solicited name suggestions, hosted a community forum and held two student-centered elections.
The City of Alameda kicked off the holiday season with a festive celebration at City Hall last Saturday. City officials, the poets laureate and several musical performers entertained a festive crowd. Children enjoyed free candy canes and visits with Kris Kringle himself. Following the event, merchants in downtown Alameda invited revelers to warm up on the Hot Cocoa Crawl. Throughout the season, Santa Claus will be dropping by locations on Park Street, Webster Street and South Shore Shopping Center. That jolly, old elf in the red suit sure does get around.
Members of the congregation, city officials and members of the public joined Chabad of Alameda for the lighting of a 9-foot Hanukkah menorah on the waterfront in the Bridgeside Center last Sunday, Dec. 2, the first night of the eight-day holiday. The ceremony, organized by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Meir Shmotkin, featured a fire juggling show, arts and crafts, food and Mayor Trish Spencer lighting the attending candle.