CASTRO VALLEY -- Castro Valley will party Saturday to celebrate the end of two years of traffic delays, detours, frustration and dust along the town's main thoroughfare.
"Meet in the Street," marking the reopening of Castro Valley Boulevard, will include live entertainment, drawings for prizes, a beer and wine booth, coupons, speeches from local officials and a ribbon-cutting.
Ghilotti Construction, of Santa Rosa, began work on Castro Valley Boulevard, the community's main artery, in 2010. During the construction, local merchants were hit hard.
The roadwork, officially called the Castro Valley Streetscape Project, reconfigured traffic lanes, widened sidewalks and added bike lanes, LED streetlights, trees and planter beds.
The event will give residents a chance to visit businesses on the boulevard, said Jaimie Orfanos, of the Alameda County Community Development Agency.
"We have worked with the merchants to get discount coupons so people can meander the area and get to know the merchants again," she said.
One of those taking part in Saturday's festivities will be Intero Real Estate Services at 3185 Castro Valley Blvd.
"I think people are ready to celebrate," said Dave Wilhite, Intero broker/owner. "Having the boulevard open and modernized and more pedestrian-friendly, it's all good."
Wilhite said he hopes the party will create a bounce of more sales and better business downtown.
The $11 million road project
It was funded with $8.7 million from the former Alameda County Redevelopment Agency and $2.3 million from the sanitary district. The project was one of the last Alameda County was able to fund with redevelopment money before Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved redevelopment agencies earlier this year.
Castro Valley Boulevard will be shut down from San Miguel Avenue to Redwood Road from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday for the festivities.
Seven stages will be set up. In addition, "Nutcracker" soldiers, a juggling elf on a unicycle and elves making balloon creations will wander the street.
"The holidays are coming early to Castro Valley," Orfanos said. "The boulevard is a gift, in a sense."
One of more unusual activities at the celebration is a poker run from 3 to 5 p.m. Despite its name, contestants will be walking to seven businesses to collect playing cards. The best seven hands will win grand prizes, and the others will be entered into a drawing, said Nikki Mendez, of the Castro Valley/Eden Area Chamber of Commerce. The price is $10 for one hand, $15 for two.
"This is our first poker run, so we're not sure what to expect," she said. "But we hope it will be a lot of fun and help get more people into downtown Castro Valley and into the shops."
A light parade at 5:30 p.m. will conclude the festivities. The parade will have a small-town feel, with floats, antique vehicles, Irish dancers, motorcycles and even service dogs, all with lights attached. The parade ends with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.