Christmas arrived in November and the best gift of all was the long-awaited completion of the troublesome construction on Castro Valley Boulevard.
The residents of Castro Valley, young and old, gathered on Nov. 10 to celebrate the completion of the streetscape project. Gone are the bumpy roads, the big noisy trucks and the bright orange cones. Instead, there are rain gardens (which help keep pollution levels down in surrounding creeks), public art, more trees, permeable paving, new street lights, and more.
“I think the project is great. It benefits the community. The street is beautiful. I’m loving it,” says county supervisor Nate Miley.
The ceremony began with the Star Spangled Banner, followed by a few words from Miley, as well as from the deputy director of the Alameda County Community Development Agency Eileen Dalton, director of the Alameda County Community Development Agency Daniel Woldesenbet, board president of the Castro Valley Sanitary District Ralph Johnson, and General Manager of the Castro Valley Sanitary District Roland Williams, Jr.
Next, the crowd gathered excitedly as Miley cut the big red ribbon with a large pair of gold scissors. Behind him stood people that made the streetscape project possible.
“The street is now officially open!” Miley said. His words were greeted with cheers from the crowd.
Walking amongst the residents were elves, dressed head to toe in green and red. Some made balloon animals for children, some juggled, and one even rode the street on a unicycle.
Merchants, whose business had suffered during the construction joined in on the joyful celebration. Knudsen’s Ice Creamery gave away free ice cream cones, and Rigatoni’s gave away a small plates of pasta. Others offered discounts; Big Apple Bagels sold their bagels with cream cheese for $0.99 instead of the usual $1.99.
The street was lined with much entertainment, adding to the residents’ excitement. Booths crowded the sidewalk across the street from Castro Valley Village. These included Kaiser Permanente, Swiss Delices, and the Clean Water Program of Alameda County. Bands added music to the happy occasion, including the CVHS band, who entranced a crowd of their own. Carriage rides were also available, pulled by large brown horses. Kids lined up excitedly and waited for their faces to be painted next to the Ice Creamery.
The grand finale, the Light Parade, began at 5:30 p.m., as night began to fall. The national anthem was sung again. The lights on the passing vehicles illuminated the night. Amongst the procession was a fire truck, marching clowns who played music, the carriage pulled by horses, elementary school students walking and filling the night with joyful shouts, a back hoe, a yellow school bus, and much more. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus concluded the parade, waving to delighted children and adults alike.
The ceremony was dedicated to Harry Francis, a man who contributed much to the Castro Valley community for more than 17 years as a member of the Castro Valley Sanitary District Board of Directors.