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November 10, 2015 > Community celebration has attendees dancing in the streets

Community celebration has attendees dancing in the streets

By Linda-Robin Craig

Meet in the Street, the newest and fastest growing street celebration in Castro Valley, reflects the determination of residents to control the development of their town. They have successfully managed a difficult task, to grow Castro Valley over time while remaining close to their original roots. Don Guillermo Castro, a rancher who served as a surveyor in the Mexican army was granted the land (just over 26K acres) when he retired in 1841. The town that developed from that beginning is now one of CaliforniaÕs census-designated places and the fifth most populous unincorporated area in California.

Residents have repeatedly voted down incorporating, preferring to be directly involved in their townÕs growth and government. The result is an ever-evolving community that has continued to celebrate their ranching history. Decades of rodeo parades and annual chili cook-offs still have the streets filled with music and dancing. The year-round Farmers Market contributes to the rural atmosphere that brings families out to stroll, chat, and enjoy their community.

Four years ago, when residents decided to continue the tradition of renewal while retaining their rural identity, they began a broad refurbishment of Castro Valley Boulevard, the heart of downtown. Revitalization led to a new celebration, in the old tradition of parading, music, and dancing that has quickly grown to see literally thousands of residents dancing in the streets. Kathleen, a local, said, It is so much better after the re-haul. The street is illuminated nicely and the bike lanes and pedestrian crossways are very clear its nice to be a walker, biker or driver downtown now.

Jaimie Orfanos of Alameda County Community Development Agency is enthusiastic about the event. The Meet in the Street Light Parade has evolved into a tremendously successful event in its 4th year. The original intent was to celebrate the completion of the Castro Valley Boulevard Streetscape Project, but the parade was such a success that it continues to grow in participants and viewers each year. This year, we are closing down the street at noon rather than 3 oclock to allow merchants and entertainment along the boulevard for a longer time period.

It is anticipated that dance studios, campus and service clubs, churches and other organizations, antique vehicles, service dogs, and motorcycles, will don holiday lights (the only requirement) and lead Mr. & Mrs. Claus, the final entrants, along the parade route. More than 2,000 viewers were on the street last year for this free event. There will be no automobile traffic from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., and attendees can visit over 25 booths representing various businesses in the area.

Local entertainment troupe Celebrity Gems will present dancing Christmas trees and balloon making elves for the kids, who also get a jump house from Hayward Area Recreation & Park District, a 4H Petting Zoo, and face painting as well performances by the Prescott Circus Troupe. Music by local artists will be presented live on two stages from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Yummy dishes from Food Truck Mafia will be on offer from Hongry Kong, Out of the Cave, Tacos de los Altos, Mediterranean Touch Cuisine, Streatery, and Lexie's Frozen Custard, and all restaurants in the area will be open. Adults can get in on the fun and try their luck at a Poker Walk; the best seven hands will win prizes valued at $50.

To participate in the Light Parade or enter a float, go to for a free application. To sign up for a booth, use the Chamber of Commerce website,

Meet in the Street
Saturday, Nov 14
12:00 7:00 p.m.
Light Parade begins at 5:30
Castro Valley Boulevard
(Between San Miguel & Redwood Rd), Castro Valley
(510) 670-6107
Free parking in lots and neighborhood streets

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