If you like parades, holiday shopping bargains, outdoor ice skating and a major swim meet all at the same time, you'll surely like Pleasanton this weekend.
It starts early this morning with 2,000 swimmers and their families already in town as the Pleasanton Seahawks host the Junior Olympic swim meet at the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center on Black Avenue.
Ice skating started two weeks ago at the Sharks/Devcon skating rink on Old Bernal Avenue with more than 500 a day on average enjoying the first-ever outdoor rink that will stay open through Sunday, Jan. 10.
Hundreds more will be on Main Street today for special events (and sales) sponsored by downtown merchants and restaurants. Then at 5:30 p.m., thousands of spectators will line downtown streets to watch the annual Hometown Holidays Celebration parade.
The aquatic center will draw swimmers starting at 6:30 this morning and again tomorrow for the Junior Olympic swim meet, which ends Sunday. Admission is free to this fun-filled event where families and swim clubs from throughout the West pitch tents well-stocked with energy drinks and snacks -- even with a few cots -- for those long waits between competitions.
Farmers Market opens at 9 a.m. today with larger-than-usual crowds expected because of the season and other events downtown. Also on Angela Street, the creators of Pipperoos will offer a creative drama event at Your Stage Toys, where children can participate in dramatic activities including pantomime and theme related role-playing games.
All day today at Thriving Ink's new store on Main Street, Brenda Dronkers and her family have put together $10-value care packages which they'll send to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan through the Blue Star Moms organization for every $30 worth of purchases, and in the customer's name.
Also having holiday open houses today are the Stork's Nest, Studio 7, Murphy's Paw and Gourmet Works, with gift card raffles, free refreshments and many giveaways
Then, from 6 to 9 p.m., the Berry Patch at the corner of Angela and Main will host its annual holiday open house with music, holiday treats, raffles and shopper specials, Doug Linman will be there playing holiday music; Gary Winter will show his new Pleasanton miniatures; and Sue Evans will be showing and signing her Pleasanton photography work.
Also Saturday afternoon, Little Valley Winery will feature live music by The Black Pearl Project from 4 to 7:30 p.m. outside its store at 739 Main St., where owner Sandi Bohner will offer wine tasting sold by the glass, candy canes for children and warm places to congregate while watching the parade pass by.
Another warm spot for parade-watching is Towne Center Books, where owner Judy Wheeler will be offering hot beverages and treats. Towne Center Books also is offering breakfast with Santa for $5 a person. That event started this morning and will be offered again on Saturday mornings on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19.
By the way, Wheeler is urging shoppers to make their purchases in Pleasanton when they can. She points out that just a 10 percent shift in business to local independent retailers can substantially boost the city's economy. For every $10 spent here, $4.50 stays here. When that $10 is spent online, nothing stays local.