ALAMEDA -- Webster Street's annual festival has a new name and some new activities, but the fun this weekend should remain unchanged, according to event organizers.
The Neptune Beach Community Celebration, formerly the Webster Street Jam, is set to take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The annual event began in 2002. It gave Islanders a chance to gather on Webster Street and enjoy local food, music and more. This year, it will include a giant, 40-foot-high historic slide for kids, which is reminiscent of Neptune Beach's heyday as the Coney Island of the West from 1917-1939.
"The name change takes us back to the original concept of the event and of being tied to history of the street," said Jeff Cambra, president of Festival Productions and vice president of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce. "We're just shifting the emphasis from Skippy peanut butter to the Neptune Beach amusement park."
Earlier this year, the Alameda Chamber of Commerce stepped in after the loss of state funding impacted the City of Alameda and its support of a number of local programs.
"Events were in jeopardy of being canceled, and we helped produce, fund and support Concerts at the Cove in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Alameda and the East Bay Regional Park District," Cambra explained. "Now, we're doing so with the Neptune Beach Community Celebration, which we're producing with the West Alameda Business
"We are excited to be partnering with the chamber for an event that will keep all the great wonderful things of the Jam and embrace our West End history, too," said Carolyn Lantz, manager of the West Alameda business group. "It's going to be as great an event as the Jam was, and we are pleased with the renaming."
Among the local bands playing on the main stage (at Webster and Central Avenue) is the Bob Claire Orchestra, which won the battle of the bands contest between performers at Concerts at the Cove this summer.
"They play a lot of different music, like R&B, rock, soul and Motown," Cambra said.
There will be plenty of live music all day Saturday and in the afternoon on Sunday. The Bob Claire Orchestra will take the stage late on Sunday afternoon.
"We are gearing up for the festival to be a very family oriented, community based event," Cambra said. "Many of the restaurants will be selling food to visitors that day. Plus, there will pony rides and inflatable amusements for kids near the slide at Lincoln Avenue and Webster."
"We really hope everyone will come out to enjoy the fair and see the great things that the West End has to offer this weekend and every day of the year," Lantz said.