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.

In 1973 I was a reporter for a small town California newspaper. One of my jobs that year was to read “Dear Santa” letters that children sent to the newspaper and select the best ones for publication. 
Most letters asked Santa to only bring toys for the letter writers. In my 14-year newspaper career I read many such letters. But that one year, one letter stood out. It was from two younger sisters of a 12-year-old. The younger sisters didn’t ask Santa for a single present for themselves. 

The crowds were out on Thompson Avenue, ahem, excuse me, Christmas Tree Lane again last Saturday, to start off one of the Island City’s treasured annual holiday traditions. Nearly all of the houses along the lane present over-the-top lighted decorations that have featured everything from an animatronic Night Before Christmas to Star Wars’ BB-8. Good ol’ St. Nicholas himself even drops by for a visit, starting this weekend. Christmas Tree Lane will remain lit every night through
New Year’s Eve, which falls on a Sunday this year.


Opportunities to eat, shop and be merry in Alameda abound this Saturday, Dec. 2. From this year’s first Hot Cocoa Crawl to the East End’s Christmas Tree Lane, the Island City has lots to offer for a festive holiday experience.

Park Free Saturdays
Parking will be free on Saturday (and every Saturday) between now and New Year’s Day in Alameda’s shopping districts. In addition, look for free gift-wrapping opportunities, pop-up stores and other treats. Oh and of course, more opportunities to meet with Santa coming up. 


Donna Eyestone and her 12-year-old daughter Emma continued a long-standing family tradition this year. Over the years they have created gingerbread likenesses of Alameda’s most recognizable buildings. 

These include City Hall, the Marketplace on Park Street and the Croll’s building at Webster Street and Central Avenue. (The gingerbread Marketplace included the Park Street Bridge that Donna and Emma fashioned using pretzels.)  

“Emma does the landscaping and I design the buildings with a little help from my husband, James,” Donna said. 


Christmas Tree Lane
Thompson Avenue really outdid itself last Saturday night for the opening of its holiday decoration celebration known as “Christmas Tree Lane.” Each home on the street contributes something fantastic and the street drew a dense first-night crowd. There were new Star Wars: Rogue 1 illuminated characters abounding, including Yoda and R2D2, along with old favorites Mickey Mouse and The Muppets. Other decorations featured accompanying music, moving, flashing lights of all colors and more.

Since the holiday season comes but once a year, while good cheer and celebration is the focus, these celebrations cause trash bins to fill up with extra waste. This year, don’t be so quick to toss everything in the trash, because a lot of items can be recycled, and remember, Santa is watching. Don’t end up on the naughty recycling list.  

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 

Santa-followers throughout the world were thrilled to learn that he and his new chief elf, Quaznor, may soon speak to them from the North Pole via videoconference. A specific time for the event was not disclosed. Similar presentations have been impromptu affairs, as Santa and his staff must wait for a sustained peaceful lull in human race-consciousness before they can descend from the spiritual to the human dimensions. Such lulls have been rare in 2015, but hopes are high that one may occur before Christmas. 

Alameda Meals on Wheels, Twin Towers United Methodist Church, and Saboor Zafari of Angela’s Restaurant announced this week they will co-sponsor a free dinner, open to all residents and families in Alameda in need of a hot meal on Christmas Day. 

The event will be held at the church, located at Central Avenue and Oak Street on Christmas Day, Friday, Dec. 25, between noon and 3 p.m. The sponsors anticipate serving 750 to 1,000 meals to adults and families with children.