Park It by Ned MacKay: Garin Apple Fesitval

Apples in all their delicious variety are at the core of the Garin Apple Festival, which will be from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 at Garin Regional Park in Hayward.

The park is home to an antique apple orchard, maintained by volunteers, that has varieties of apples you won’t find in your supermarket.

Visitors can hand-crank ice cream or press apple cider, then test the fruits of their labor. Other activities at the park’s Red Barn Visitor Center will include live music, dancing, crafts and old-fashioned games. It’s a great event for the entire family.

Garin Regional Park is located at the end of Garin Avenue off Mission Boulevard. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle; the festival is free of charge. For information call 510-544-3220.

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From 1937 to 1944, playwright Eugene O’Neill and his wife, Carlotta Monterey, lived in Tao House overlooking Danville, a residence they built with money O’Neill had received when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936. The home is now a National Historic Site.

At Tao House O’Neill wrote three of his most famous plays: “The Iceman Cometh,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” and “A Moon for the Misbegotten.”

The Tao House property adjoins Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. From 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Sept. 8, park district interpretive staff will lead a hike from Front Street Park in downtown Danville along the Iron Horse Trail and up to Tao House.

The hike is part of the Eugene O’Neill Festival, an annual event celebrating the playwright’s legacy. For information and hike registration, go to

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They are large (for arachnids), furry, and lovelorn. At this time of year, male tarantulas venture forth in search of females, who await in silk-lined boudoirs for purposes of procreation. You may see the boys crawling slowly across roads and trails in the park district and other places. If you do, please leave them alone. Though they may look threatening, they are harmless and will only bite in self-defense.

You can meet a captive tarantula and learn more about their life cycle in a program with a naturalist from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8 and again on Sept. 22 at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore.

Del Valle is at the end of Del Valle Road off Mines Road about nine miles south of town. There’s a $5 parking fee. Meet the naturalist at the Rocky Ridge Visitor Center. For information, call Sunol Wilderness at 510-544-3249.

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Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont is the site of a 2,000-year old Ohlone village. Learn about Ohlone culture past and present during a guided half-mile walk to the site from 10 a.m. to noon or from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, Oct. 13 or Oct. 26; or from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 21. The site has a reconstructed shade structure, pit house and sweat house.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway.

There’s a $5 parking fee; the program is free. Meet at the visitor center. For information, call 510-544-3220.

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The rich history of Alameda’s shoreline will be the topic during a walk from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, led by naturalist Michael Charnofsky.

Meet at Crown Beach near the intersection of Park Street and Shoreline Drive for the three-mile stroll to Doolittle Pond at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline. For information, call 510-544-3187.

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Spiderology is the theme of a program from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley.

Spiderman-naturalist Anthony Fisher will introduce the group to a very large spider, then lead everyone into the woods in search of other living examples of the species.

Meet at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center, which is at the north end of Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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A couple of interesting activities are on the calendar at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

From 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, it’s owl pellet dissection. Pluck apart owl pellets to discover what the feathered predators have been eating.

Then from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8, there’s a second Sundays campfire. This is a family-friendly evening with nature-themed activities and that gooey campfire treat, s’mores. Bring a picnic to enjoy before the program starts.

Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. The programs are free of charge. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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Information on all these activities and more is available at the park district website, And remember, Fridays are free in the regional parks from now through the end of the year, in celebration of the district’s 85th anniversary.

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