Open Opera is coming to Dimond Park on Aug. 19, a chance to take in a free opera performance and also to enjoy lovely and historic park surroundings.

"We invite people to bring picnics, blankets and chairs," said Michelle Doppelt, recreation supervisor at Dimond Park, located off Interstate 580 and MacArthur Boulevard, between Fruitvale Avenue and Park Boulevard. The concert begins at 3 p.m.

Dimond Park was once the estate of Hugh Dimond and his family. Originally from Ireland, Dimond came to California during the Gold Rush. He did well in the mines, and subsequently came to the Bay Area where he invested his Gold Rush gains in the San Francisco wholesale liquor business. At the age of 41, he was able to retire to the sunny side of the bay and purchased property in the hills east of the town of Oakland from early settler Henderson Luelling. It was Luelling who first brought cherry trees to the area, the source for the name of today's Fruitvale District.

Dimond died in 1896 and in 1913 the imposing family home that stood where the park is today burned to the ground. In 1917, the family sold 12 acres of their property to the city of Oakland for a park.

Sausal Creek runs through Dimond Canyon, also named for the family. Starting in the 1920s, the Boy Scouts had summer camps there. In the park, a small hut, made from adobe bricks, taken from the Antonio Peralta Rancho compound a short distance down the hill, still stands. In the 1930s crews from the Works Progress Administration built fire trails up into the canyon and made other improvements. Culverts were added and a community swimming pool, courtesy of Oakland Lions Club, was installed in 1929. An upgraded pool facility replaced the original one in the 1950s.

Groves of shade trees throughout the park, some dating to the 19th century, give Dimond Park its particular character. Under the trees are picnic tables and barbecue facilities that are popular in the summer months. Doppelt said it's been a busy summer so far, with the various day camps, swim lessons and other activities. "This is a very well-used park," she said.

A group called Friends of Sausal Creek hold regular work parties to maintain the trails and tackle the overgrown vegetation along the creek bed.

For more on Open Opera and the Aug. 19 performance in Dimond Park, visit www.openopera.net. The number to call for information on Dimond Park activities and picnic site rentals is 510-482-7831.

For more on the history of Dimond Canyon, and to find out about volunteer opportunities for creek clean ups, check out www.sausalcreek.org.

.