Park It by Ned MacKay: Independence Day at East Bay Parks

East Bay Regional Parks

Two of the East Bay Regional Parks plan special events to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.

Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont will stage its annual Independence Day Celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4.

It’s a 19th Century-style community festival with patriotic music on the Patterson House lawn and fiddle music in the farmyard. There will be games, contests and races all day long, including nail driving, egg toss, bucket brigade, tug-of-war, and the always-popular watermelon seed spitting. Visitors can bring their own picnic or purchase food at the Ardenwood Cafe.

Admission to the event is $10 for adults 18 and over, $8 for seniors 55 and older, $5 for children ages 4 through 17, and free for kids under 4. Parking is free.

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

Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda also plans Fourth of July festivities. First, there will be a Crab Cove contingent in the Alameda hometown parade from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can see Crab Cove’s mobile visitor center from the sidewalk along the parade route.

After that, there will be an open house from 2 to 4:30 p.m. July 4 back at Crab Cove, with lots of family friendly activities through the afternoon. The visitor center will not be open until 1 p.m., due to the parade.

Crab Cove is at the end of McKay Avenue off Alameda’s Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.

In general, all the regional parks will be open on July 4, with picnic tables available on a first come, first served basis. If you plan a picnic, it’s best to arrive early, especially at regional parks with swim beaches. Independence Day is one of the more popular and crowded times in the parklands. By the way, no fireworks! All fireworks are illegal in the regional parks.

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There’s a lot going on in the regional parks during the days preceding July 4 as well. Here’s a partial list:

Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont has Discovery Days from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. It’s a drop-in program at the visitor center. You can come at 10:30 a.m. for an introduction to the topic of the week, or stop by any time for hands-on nature exploration and crafts.

There are also tours of the park’s restored Ohlone Indian village from 10 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays, July 1, 22, and Aug. 26, and from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on July 14 and Aug. 4. It’s a half-mile walk through a marsh to the 2,000-year-old site.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 510-544-3220.

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At Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, it’s “Talk With the Animals” time from 11 to 11:30 a.m. every Sunday in July and August. Meet a different live animal each week at the Tilden Little Farm.

And naturalist Trent Pearce will feature snakes and turtles in a program from noon to 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 1 at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center.

Trent also plans one of his spider safaris from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 1, starting at Tilden’s Vollmer Peak trailhead near the Steam Train off Grizzly Peak Boulevard.

The Little Farm and Center are at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive. For information on all three programs, call 510-544-2233.

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At Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, naturalist Eddie Willis will lead a “Beat the Heat” hike from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Sunday, July 1. The group will hike on steep trails through woodlands and chaparral, then cool off near one of the mine openings.

Meet Eddie at Black Diamond’s uppermost parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4.

Black Diamond has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is staffed. Call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750 for information.

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“Delta Discoveries” is the theme of an ongoing program from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. Kids or families with kids can learn about the Delta wetlands through nature-themed art and craft activities.

Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street (Highway 4). For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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There are lots of other programs available in the regional parks. Check out the website, And however you spend it, have a safe and happy Independence Day.

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