ALAMEDA -- Santa Claus is expected to arrive a few weeks early this year -- by fire truck -- for the annual Hometown Holiday Celebration and Mayor's Tree Lighting, set for Saturday at City Hall.

The activities include ice skating, picture-taking with Santa and plenty of games, craft-making and other activities -- most of which should take place even if it rains.

"This is definitely a community event," said Mayor Marie Gilmore. "It's a tradition, which we host to bring some fun to everyone at this special time of year."

The synthetic ice rink should be open from 12 to 5 p.m., and groups of 35 skaters will be allowed on the ice for 20 minutes. Games and craft activities will also take place all afternoon. Mayor Gilmore will light the tree at 5:30 p.m.

"From holiday music to other activities that the Recreation and Park Department has organized, it should be a feel-good day for the community to come out and enjoy," she explained. "We're going to have fun regardless of whatever the weather decides to do."

Music for the tree-lighting ceremony includes tunes played by Alameda's Community Band and the Mistle Tones. The Dancing Christmas Trees also will provide entertainment, and Santa will share candy canes.

"There will be a big stage set up in front of City Hall," said Amy Wooldridge, director of the Recreation and Park Department. "We expect several thousand people and encourage everyone to get there early."


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In conjunction with these activities at City Hall, the Park Street Business District is hosting a Hometown Holiday on Saturday. Area merchants will be sharing edible treats and shopping discounts and hosting special in-store events. Kids can visit Santa from 1-3 p.m. at Tucker's Ice Cream.

The 36th-annual Lighted Yacht Parade, hosted by the Encinal Yacht Club, Oakland Yacht Club and Marina Village Yacht Harbor, also is scheduled for this Saturday. The yacht parade begins at about 5:30 p.m. along the Oakland-Alameda Estuary. This year's decorating theme is "Lights, Camera, Action!"

San Francisco Bay Ferry is offering a special Lighted Yacht Parade ferry service that departs at 5:15 p.m. from the Alameda Main Street ferry terminal, 2990 Main St. Passengers who bring donations for the Toys for Tots program may ride for free.

IF YOU GO
What: Hometown Holiday Celebration and Mayor's Tree Lighting
When: 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Alameda City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave., and the nearby parking lot on Oak Street
Cost: Free