Park It by Ned Mackay: Whitney Dotson Celebration

Retiring regional park district director Whitney Dotson will be honored during a celebration from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, rain or shine, at Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline in Richmond.

The event also celebrates the district’s efforts to protect public access to shoreline at Miller/Knox.

Director Dotson has served on the park district board for eleven years. A lifelong Richmond resident, he has been a strong advocate for preservation and public access to the shoreline. The Dotson Family Marsh at Point Pinole is named in his and his family’s honor.

The event at Miller/Knox is open to the public. Please arrive at noon for lunch. For more information, contact Monique Salas at

Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline is at 900 Dornan Drive. To get there, drive on South Garrard Boulevard through the tunnel at Pt. Richmond. On the park side of the tunnel, S. Garrard Boulevard becomes Dornan Drive.

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Among the many celebrations of the holiday season in the East Bay is Christmas at the Carousel, the merry-go-round at Tilden Regional Park near Berkeley.

The historic carousel, built in 1911, with hand-carved wooden animals, is adorned with all kinds of Christmas decorations. Besides the rides, attractions include Santa and his elves; cookies, hot chocolate and gingerbread for sale; and Christmas music.

Carousel hours are 4 to 8:30 p.m. from now through Dec. 23 on weekdays, noon to 8:30 p.m. on weekends. The carousel will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The carousel is located on Central Park Drive just down the hill from the intersection with Wildcat Canyon Road. For information, call 510-559-1004.

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While we’re at Tilden, several great programs are planned in coming days, all starting at the Environmental Education Center.

There’s a nature ramble with naturalist “Trail Gail” Broesder from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. It’s a walk down to Jewel Lake in search of signs of the season.

Gail also plans a “Jolly Holly Craft Time” from 1 to 3 p.m. the same day. It’s a short walk, followed by work on a craft to deck your halls.

And naturalist Trent Pearce will host a ranger coffee hour from 10 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15 and again Dec. 22. Bring your own mug for a fireside cup, while getting the latest information on wildlife sightings, native plants and trail conditions.

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

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Another seasonal phenomenon in the regional parks is the annual overwintering of ladybugs, which is most evident at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland.

Thousands of the little red insects, more formally known as ladybird beetles, cluster on logs, fence posts and shrubs along park trails. The best place to see them is usually the area around the junction of the Stream and Prince Trails. Generally they clump together in the fall and leave in late winter.

Gardeners like ladybugs, because the insects’ diet includes aphids. Passers-by can enjoy the spectacle, but please don’t collect any ladybugs. It’s against the rules to remove any plants or animals from the regional parks.

Naturalist Michael Charnofsky will lead a three-mile hike to view the ladybugs from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 14. Meet Michael at the park’s Canyon Meadow staging area, which is at the end of the Redwood Road entrance to the park. For information, call 510-544-3187.

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The cultural and natural history of Radke Martinez Regional Shoreline is the theme of an easy stroll, starting with a cup of coffee, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, led by naturalist Virginia Delgado-Martinez.

The program is for ages five and older. Meet Virginia in the parking lot off North Court Street, across the railroad tracks from downtown Martinez. For information, call 510-544-2750.

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“Duck, Duck, Coot” is the theme of a bird watching program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14 at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. The group will use scopes and binoculars to identify the waterfowl that fly into the delta for the season.

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

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

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