Hayward and San Leandro will celebrate the holidays next week with downtown outdoor evening parties.
On Thursday, Hayward's "Light Up the Season" will include holiday entertainment, a synthetic ice-skating rink at City Hall Plaza, children's rides, food and a chance to meet Santa, ending with a tree lighting at City Hall.
"It's a Wonderful Night" in San Leandro on Friday also will feature Santa, local performers and carolers, plus carriage rides.
Most of the events in Hayward will take place on B Street, from Mission Boulevard to City Hall, though merchants throughout downtown will be open and offering special promotions. Watkins Street in front of City Hall will be closed.
Entertainers will include the Dancing Christmas Trees, Mariachi Juvenil, the Melody Chorus Society, the Youth Orchestra, the Hayward High School marching band, New Dimension and the Peninsula Graces Dancing Group. Lights have been strung on trees, light poles and railings along B Street to add to the festive mood.
The Hayward celebration runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m., with the tree lighting scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Pictures with Santa are $5, as is the ice-skating rink, which often sells out early.
San Leandro's event also includes crafts and a holiday film. Those bringing a toy for the Toys for Tots drive will receive a complimentary bag of popcorn. The festivities take place from 6 to 9 p.m. in Joaquin Plaza on East 14th Street. The Christmas tree will be lit at 6 p.m. in Civic Center Plaza, and holiday lights have been installed throughout the downtown.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473. Follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.