Park It by Ned MacKay: Holiday season in the regional parks


East Bay Regional Parks District

There are always lots of holiday season programs in the East Bay Regional Parks, especially at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, where Victorian-era Christmas celebrations are recreated.

First on the calendar is a Christmas Evening Open House at the park’s historic Patterson mansion. It’s from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, and there may still be time to sign up.

The house is adorned with Victorian inspired holiday decorations. Refreshments and live music are included.

The adult fee for the event is $7 in advance, $8 at the door. Children ages 12 and under are free. This is an after hours City of Fremont event. Register at For information, call 510-791-4196 or email

There are also daytime Christmas tours at the Patterson House, guided by staff and docents. The tours are at 11:30 a.m., noon, and 1, 2, and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22.

Tickets are available at the house. The cost is $2 for children 4 through 17, $3 for adults, plus the park’s winter rate admission fee. Special shortened tours for children six and under are offered at 11:30 a.m.

To book large group tours or inquire about the weekday tour schedule, call 510-544-3289.

Ardenwood is located at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, just north of Highway 84. For general park information, call 510-544-2797.

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Nearby at Coyote Hills Regional Park, the naturalists host Discovery Days programs from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday at the visitor center. Come at 11 a.m. for an introduction to the topic of the week, or drop by any time during the day to join in the activities.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle; the programs are free of charge. Call 510-544-3220.

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Down at Sunol Regional Wilderness, holiday wreath making is on the agenda from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, with naturalist Ashley Adams. The group will use a variety of greenery from native plants and holiday favorites, all supplies provided.

The program is for ages seven and older, registration is required, and there’s a fee of $10 per person ($13 for non-district residents). To register, call 888-327-2757, select option 2, and refer to program number 27009.

The park is located on Geary Road off Calaveras Road about five miles south of I-680 and the town of Sunol. For general information, call 510-544-3249.

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You can make a gift and/or an ornament during either of two programs scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 7, led by naturalist “Trail Gail” Broesder, at the Environmental Education Center in Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley. Both programs are for ages eight and older.

From 10 to 11:30 a.m. Gail will show how to create a washcloth using undyed wool. Gail advises that creating the gift will require the entire program time.

Then from 1 to 3 p.m. you can learn how to create felt while making an easy acorn ornament.

The center is at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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Birding enthusiasts will enjoy a walk from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8 at Contra Loma Reservoir in Antioch with naturalist Kevin Dixon, in search of local and migratory fowl.

Contra Loma is at the end of Frederickson Lane off Golf Course Road. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. Meet Kevin at the main parking lot. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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Spawning Chinook salmon are the topic of a nature program from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, starting at Homecoming Park in Brentwood.

The naturalists from Big Break Regional Shoreline will lead the group on a walk up Marsh Creek to the salmon spawning ground. Homecoming Park is at 2040 Homecoming Way. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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For information on all the programs offered in the regional parks, check out the website, And remember, Fridays are free in the regional parks through the end of the year, in celebration of the district’s 85th anniversary.

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