For a little swath of land, Splash Pad Park has a big following. The greenbelt at Grand Avenue and Lake Park turns 10 on Oct. 20, and neighbors say the place will be rocking with five Oakland bands and a beverage garden.
Splash Pad Park has an interesting past. In the early '90s, it was a severely neglected piece of land that the city wanted to turn into a commercial development.
"The fountain with the water jets that shot into the air and splashed when they landed (giving the park the name that has since stuck) had long stopped operating, and the park was overgrown with ivy and weeds," says splashpad.org founder Ken Katz. "Neighbors wanted a park where a farmers market and other events could be held -- and a gateway to the Grand Lake district, not a "physical and psychological barrier that felt vaguely threatening."
In 2001, the city hired Oakland-based landscape architect Walter Hood to design the park you see today -- an inviting space with a fountain, gracefully curved seating walls and blue up-lighting under the freeway that illuminates the names of donors. The park has had such a positive effect on the Grand Lake neighborhood that the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum named Hood the Landscape Architect of the Year in 2009.
Katz, who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, says the park and farmers market have been part of a major renaissance.
"Today, Kwik Way is again thriving and Lake Park Avenue (which was a wasteland five or six years ago) has absolutely no vacancies."
He adds that Lakeshore and Grand is becoming a hip destination. Looking back, Katz cares as deeply about the Splash Pad Park today as he did when he started the effort to save it.
"In a sense, I feel like I played a role in the birth of a child and this is, in part, my baby."
For more on the celebration, see www.splashpad.org/10thAnniversary.html.
The Great Pumpkin: There are orange orbs aplenty in town this month.
Check out Joaquin Miller School's pumpkin patch and sale running three weekends starting Saturday.
The money goes to fund the library, science classes and the computer lab.
Meanwhile, the folks at Thornhill Nursery are ready to pony up $200 for the best carved pumpkin.
You need to buy your gourd there and then bring in your masterpiece by Oct. 28.
The great beyond: What would you pay to talk football with Al Davis for all of eternity? I stopped by his resting place at the Chapel of the Chimes last week, and the crypt to his right is still vacant. (Blues legend Johnny Lee Hooker occupies the spot on the left). For $100,000 you can buy a spacious two-casket home for eternity -- with a Raider's icon next door. Like any classy neighborhood, this one comes with a homeowner's fee, of sorts.
It's a one-time 10 percent endowment that goes toward maintenance of the mausoleum.
But for football fanatics in the Black Hole and beyond, it seems like the deal of a lifetime.