By Marta Yamamoto
ALAMEDA — A number of activities are planned on the Island to welcome December, a month of sharing the spirit with family and friends.
Santa Claus will be on hand all over town to reward those who have been nice and counsel the naughty ones. Lights glow, homes gleam, ice skates zing, craft and gifts beckon, voices sing out, Sugar Plum fairies spin as music swells and even the bay’s natural critters offer avenues to enjoy the holidays.
Alameda City Hall hosts the Hometown Holiday Celebration on Saturday with skating, crafts and Christmas lights. The free synthetic skating rink opens for all ages and free holiday games and crafts keep the young ones happy. In the afternoon, Mayor Marie Gilmore, with help from Santa, officially lights the Christmas tree, while onlookers enjoy crowd-pleasing entertainment by the Community Band, the Mistle Tones and the Dancing Christmas Trees.
Santa’s on hand again the following week on Dec. 8 for the 11th Annual Continental Breakfast with Santa, where Santa’s elves will be on hand to serve up an assortment of breakfast treats and pass out gingerbread cookies for guests to decorate.
Even though he’s busy, Santa has made time for personal visits to Alameda homes just before the big day to offer kids a last-minute chance to share their Christmas wishes, share a candy cane and have their photo taken with Santa to seal the memory.
Ice skating and visits to Santa also reign supreme at Alameda South Shore Center throughout December. With 3,000-square-feet of rink and bright orange “bobby” seals that help you balance or provide a gliding seat, there’s skating fun for all abilities. And South Shore has Santa’s House for a special talk with the guy in red.
On Saturday, Island Cat Resources and Adoption is hosting a holiday boutique with all proceeds benefiting Alameda’s homeless cats and kittens. Be prepared for thousands of items at below-market prices to help you stock up on holiday décor, specialty gift items, wrap, cards, baked goods, vintage goodies and artwork and crafts.
The 42nd Annual Alameda Holiday Home Tour on Dec. 8 offers an entire day to soak up holiday beauty and warmth. There are beautifully decorated homes to tour, a gift boutique full of artistic jewelry, clothing and toys; a gourmet shop with pre-wrapped bakery treats, raffle prizes and a Texas-style auction; and finally, a holiday desert tea.
There’s no way Santa could miss Christmas Tree Lane on Thompson Avenue. It’s a longtime Alameda tradition, begun in 1938. Beginning on Dec. 2, residents proudly display their holiday cheer with every style from classic to “over-the-top” while visitors add their ohhs and ahhs. Leave your car to stroll past Mickey and Minnie, the Grinch, penguins, reindeer and lights, lights and more lights.
All the magic of “The Nutcracker” is back with the Alameda Civic Ballet’s two performances on Dec. 15-16. Once again fall under the timeless spell of Clara’s journey with the Nutcracker Prince, the Mouse King, Land of Snowflakes, Kingdom of Sweets, the Sugar Plum fairies and the Land of Enchantment. It’s a holiday experience with beautiful costumes, enchanting sets and the classic Tchaikovsky score.
Holiday music by Spirited Minimalists is the theme of Sacred and Profane’s “A Contemplative Christmas” concert on Dec. 15. Celebrating its 35th season of transcendence, the evening features the work of Arvo Part, John Tavener and Henryk Gorecki, three composers who have turned to sacred music that is meditative, hypnotic and gently repetitive. Join your voice with the Sacred and Profane chorus for a special evening.
Once the presents have been opened and Santa’s headed home, there’s still fun to be had at Crab Cove’s Holiday Week Open House. From Dec. 26-28, the interpretive staff will be on hand with daily activities that include nature crafts and games and a chance to meet the resident turtle and snake. From ocean creatures on the big screen and bird watching bingo to beach exploration and feeding time in the center’s aquariums, each day promises to reinforce the importance of our holiday friends of the animal world.
Alameda Hometown Holiday Celebration: 12-6 p.m. Saturday. Tree lighting ceremony is at 4:30 p.m. Alameda City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave. Events held rain or shine.
11th Annual Continental Breakfast with Santa: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Dec. 8. Albert Dewitt Officers' Club, 641 West Redline Ave., Alameda Point. All family members must pre-register, space limited. Tickets $10 for 13 years and above, $5 for ages 2-12 years, under 2 years free. www.cityofalameda.gov, 510-747-7529.
Santa Visits Alameda Homes: 5-8:30 p.m. Dec. 22. Must pre-register by fax (510-523-4071) or in person at Alameda Recreation and Parks, 2226 Santa Clara Ave. $25/family. www.cityofalameda.gov, 510-747-4700.
South Shore Center's Little Ice Rink: 523 South Shore Center, rink located in the parking lot near Petco. Open through Jan. 21, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 12-10 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. $15 for ages 9 and above, $10 for ages up to 8 yrs. www.thelittleicerink.com, 510-521-8100.
Benefit Holiday Boutique: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Ave., www.icraeastbay.org, 510-869-2584, free.
Alameda Holiday Home Tour: 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Dec. 8, www.alamedaholidayhometour.info, 510-629-6208. Tickets $35 pre-tour, $40 day-of-tour.
Christmas Tree Lane: 3200-3299 Thompson Ave., between High Street and Fernside Boulevard. Lights on from Dec. 2 to Jan. 1.
Alameda Civic Ballet's Nutcracker: 2 p.m. Dec. 15-16, Kofman Theater, 2200 Central Ave., www.alamedanutcracker.com, 510-337-1929. Tickets range from $18-$35.
"A Contemplative Christmas": 8 p.m., Dec. 15, First Presbyterian Church of Alameda, 2001 Santa Clara Ave. at Chestnut Street, www.sacredprofane.org, 510-524-3611. Tickets from $15-$22.
Holiday Week Open House at Crab Cove Visitor Center: 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Dec. 26-28, 1252 McKay Ave., www.ebparks.org, 510-544-3187, free.