Park It by Ned MacKay: Memorial Day in the parks

Five of the East Bay Regional Parks plan special activities on Monday, May 27 in celebration of Memorial Day, the national holiday that honors those who died in service to the United States.

Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont will host an admission-free day of fun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can help with farm chores, ride the train, tour the Victorian-era farmhouse, taste farm-baked cookies, try some old-fashioned lawn games, and visit the farm’s domestic animals.

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

Nearby at Coyote Hills Regional Park, Memorial Day open house is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drop by the visitor center to learn about the park’s varied past and present, which includes Ohlone cultures, military uses, and nature at its most beautiful.

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.

Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda plans an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Memorial Day. Visitors can meet the center’s turtle, snake and fish, make a nature craft, or take a self-guided history walk.

Scheduled programs at the cove during open house are reptile rendezvous from 11 to 11:30 a.m., low tide walk from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Memorial Day memories from 2 to 3 p.m. and fish feeding from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Alameda’s Center Avenue. Call 510-544-3187.

Up the hill at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, there will be Memorial Day open house at the Environmental Education Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Celebrate with bubble blowing, a nature walk, or a visit to the Little Farm.

The center and Little Farm are both at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive, accessible from Grizzly Peak Boulevard via Canon Drive. Call 510-544-2233.

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch has scheduled one-hour tours of the Hazel-Atlas silica sand mine on a first-come, first-served basis throughout Memorial Day.

Tours start at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets cost $5 per person and are available at the underground Greathouse Visitor Center. For safety reasons, the mine tours are restricted to ages seven and older, and parent participation is required. However the Greathouse Visitor Center is open to all ages, admission free.

Black Diamond Mines is at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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While you’re in East Contra Costa, consider joining in a citizen science research project led by Mike Moran, the supervising naturalist at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

With the help of volunteers, Mike has been documenting the numbers and variety of hawks, falcons and eagles in the area’s regional parks. No experience is necessary – Mike and the other naturalists will teach participants how to identify the birds. Results go into a baseline used by scientists and wildlife managers.

There’s a session from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 30 on the Big Break Regional Trail, and another at the same time on June 27 at Round Valley Regional Preserve near Brentwood.

Registration is required. To register, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2. For Big Break, refer to program number 25434. For Round Valley, refer to 25435.

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Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and likely to be crowded in the regional parks. Picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s best to arrive early. Be aware of fire danger, and dispose of barbecue coals only in the concrete receptacles designed for that purpose.

When you visit the parks, please cooperate with any instructions from park rangers, firefighters, lifeguards and police, especially in the event of an emergency. The park district wishes all visitors a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day holiday.

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