Park It: Sand castle contest

East Bay Regional Parks District

Towers of sand will rise from the strand during the annual Sand Castle and Sculpture Contest at Crown Beach in Alameda, a perennial family-friendly favorite.

This year it’s on Saturday, June 8. Registration starts at 9 a.m. at the beach house near the Crown Beach entrance at Otis and Shore Line Drives. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle; the competition is free of charge.

You can choose to create either a castle or sculpture in youth, family or adult divisions. Judging is at 1 p.m.; winners receive ribbons, small trophies and bragging rights. High tide is the final winner, reclaiming all contest entries.

It’s as much fun to observe as to participate; entries are always a tribute to people’s imagination and creativity. Cosponsors are the East Bay Regional Park District, Alameda Recreation & Parks and the Bay View Women’s Club.

While you’re at Crown Beach, stop by the park district information table to learn about the Healthy Parks, Healthy People initiative. For information on the contest, call 510-544-3187.

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Archaeology is the theme of a couple of upcoming programs at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont.

Naturalist Dino Labiste will host “Stories of the Past” from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 9. The group will use clues including artifacts to piece together a story of Coyote Hills’ past.

Then from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, naturalist Kristina Parkison will lead a program on the basic principles of archaeology, with hands-on activities, culminating in a tour of the park’s 2,000-year-old Ohlone village site.

Kristina’s program is for ages 10 and older, and registration is required. To register, call 888-327-2757. Select option 2 and refer to program number 25010.

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

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There’s always something interesting going on at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley.

You can turn sheep’s wool into cloth during a felting program from 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 8 and again on June 22, with naturalist Jenna Collins.

Jenna also plans ice cream making the hand-cranked way in a program from 3:30 to 4 p.m. on the same two dates.

Or you can learn how to make string from plant fibers in a program from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 9 with naturalist Anthony Fisher.

And dragonflies, those beautiful and deadly aerial insect predators, are the focus of Anthony’s programs from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays, June 9, 23 and 30.

All the programs meet at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center, which is at the north end of Central Park Drive. Call 510-544-2233.

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Many of the miners and their families who lived and worked at what is now Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch are buried at the park’s historic Rose Hill Cemetery.

Naturalist Eddie Willis will tell their often tragic stories during an evening hike to the cemetery from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 9.

The hike is for ages eight and older. Meet Eddie in the parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4, for the 15-minute uphill walk to the cemetery.

Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 when the kiosk is staffed. The program is free. Call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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“Blissful butterflies” are the stars of a program from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 8 at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. It’s a walk with a naturalist in search of the butterflies that call Big Break their home.

And don’t miss Big Break’s Second Sunday Campfire, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 9. Bring your family and a picnic dinner to enjoy before the program starts. The show will include insect-themed activities and a family campfire with s’mores.

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

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Summertime is activity time in the regional parks. For a full schedule, visit the website,

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