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Holiday happenings: Entertainment and celebrations abound in Tri-Valley

 
The Tri-Valley Community Outreach Committee serves Thanksgiving dinner to seniors, military, veterans, singles and anyone in need in the area. The free event will take place this year on Dec. 7 at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Dublin. (Contributed photo)

The holiday season has arrived -- at least according to storefronts and the calendar, if not the weather.

Whatever that means for you, be it warm food with family, treks to snowier regions or hours of feel-good Hallmark movies, there are many opportunities to celebrate right here. From Santa meet-and-greets to holiday parades and concerts to donation drives, check out what's happening in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley.

Now get out those sweaters and have good cheer -- the holidays are here.

Santa at Stoneridge

No Christmas season is complete without a Santa appearance. This year, Santa will be at Stoneridge Shopping Center (1 Stoneridge Mall Road) through Dec. 24, after he was escorted to the mall by the Pleasanton Police Department and Mercedes-Benz of Pleasanton on Nov. 3.

Santa will be available for photos from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 12-6 p.m. on Sunday through Nov. 21; from Nov. 23 through Dec. 16, he will be available from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday; from Dec. 17-23 he will be open for photos from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. all week long; and on Christmas Eve his hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information or to reserve a "Santa FastPass," visit shopstoneridge.com.

Spirit & Sweater Stroll DT

Those ugly sweaters can finally come out of hiding! Bring out your ugliest sweater and wear it with pride this Saturday for the Pleasanton Downtown Association's Spirit and Sweater Stroll from 5-8 p.m., at which participants can enjoy spirits and cocktails at more than 20 locations along Main Street.

Tickets cost $45 through midnight Nov. 16, and are available for purchase online at pleasantondowntown.net or in person at Beer Baron, 336 St. Mary St. If the event is not sold out, tickets will be available at the door for $50. Guests must be at least 21 years old to participate, and check-in will take place from 4:30-7 p.m. at the Museum on Main, 603 Main St.

'Stuff-A-Bus' Food Drive

To support local food banks in need of essential supplies, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) is bringing back their "Stuff-A-Bus" holiday food drive this Saturday.

The drive will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at two locations: the Lucky Supermarket at the corner of West Las Positas Boulevard and Hopyard Road in Pleasanton, and the Lucky California at the corner of Dublin Boulevard and Fallon Road in Dublin.

All donations received will go toward the Open Heart Kitchen and Tri-Valley Haven food pantries.

Mony Nop Turkey Drop

In what is becoming an annual tradition, this year's Mony Nop Turkey Drop benefiting local nonprofit Tri-Valley Haven will happen this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of Livermore's City Hall.

A few years ago, Tri-Valley Haven ran out of turkeys for families in need at Thanksgiving, leading local realtor Mony Nop to establish the turkey drop, in partnership with the Livermore Police Department and the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department.

Tri-Valley Haven expects to serve more than 1,500 nearby families in need with food for Thanksgiving and with gifts and food for the upcoming December holidays. Community members are invited to drop off a frozen turkey, gift card, canned food or cash donation at Sunday's event. For more information, visit trivalleyhaven.org.

Interfaith Thanksgiving Program

Interfaith Interconnect of the Tri-Valley will hold its annual interfaith Thanksgiving program this Sunday from 5:30-7 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1501 Hillcrest Ave. in Livermore.

The event will spotlight the different ways that various faiths and cultures celebrate gratitude and joy, including music, dance, prayer and more. The event is free, but attendees are welcome to make a donation to Partners for Change, a nonprofit that helps people struggling with poverty become self-sufficient.

For more information, visit interfaithinterconnect.weebly.com.

Rotary Turkey Burn

Community members are invited to start their Thanksgiving Day festivities in a healthy way, with Pleasanton North Rotary's fourth annual Tri-Valley Turkey Burn, a 5K/10K family fun run, walk or stroll this Thursday.

The event is free, but participants are invited to donate cans of food and nonperishable food items to benefit local youth services and Tri-Valley Haven. The courses will pass through Ken Mercer Sports Park and along part of the Mocho Arroyo Trail. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. at the sports park, with the fun run start time set for 9 a.m.

Runners can register online at trivalleyturkeyburn.org until 10 p.m. on Wednesday, and at the event site from 8-9 a.m.

Tri-Valley Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a holiday all about community and food, and St. Raymond Catholic Church in Dublin aims to meet both those needs for anyone seeking a place to dine on Thursday, especially seniors, military members, veterans, singles and anyone in need in the Tri-Valley community.

The free event will be a traditional sit-down dinner, with entertainment and children's activities such as storytelling and face painting. Food will be served from 12-4 p.m. in Moran Hall at the church at 11555 Shannon Ave.

Transportation can be provided if needed by calling 829-8956. To volunteer or donate, visit TVC-Thanksgiving.com.

Danville's Lighting of the Old Oak Tree

Wasting no time in kicking off the traditional post-Thanksgiving holiday season, the town of Danville will hold their annual tree lighting ceremony from 5-8 p.m. on Nov. 23.

Locals can enjoy hot beverages and musical entertainment from local choral groups as they watch Father Christmas and the Snow Angel sprinkle "magic dust" and brighten the town's iconic old oak tree along Hartz Avenue.

Small Business Saturday

Right after Black Friday madness comes Small Business Saturday, a day where holiday shoppers around the country are encouraged to patronize local retailers.

This year, 30 downtown Pleasanton businesses will be participating in this all-day event, with many offering special discounts on shopping, dining and services. Customers who drop by on this day will be given balloons, stickers, shopping bags, pet bandanas, pens and more as a thank you for supporting local businesses.

Shoppers are invited to show their support by taking selfies at their favorite downtown venue, tagging the business and the Pleasanton Downtown Association in each photo and sharing them with the #ShopSmallPleasanton hashtag.

Holiday Youth Music Festival

The Firehouse Youth Chorus and the High School Music Collaborative will join once more to produce the sixth annual Holiday Youth Music Festival to the Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton.

Young musicians from throughout the Tri-Valley will come together to prepare locals for winter merriment by performing fun holiday favorites, both traditional and contemporary. This year, Pleasanton's improv troupe Creatures of Impulse will also make a guest appearance.

The festival begins at 6 p.m., with general admission tickets costing $7 for students and $12 for adults. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit firehousearts.org.

Concert Band Winter Concert

On Nov. 25, the Pleasanton Community Concert Band will present its Holiday Music Concert at 2 p.m. at the Firehouse Arts Center.

The program will feature traditional holiday favorites and requested pieces, including tunes by Handel, Bach, Barber, Bizet and Leroy Anderson. Admission is free, though donations are welcome. Doors open at 1:45 p.m., with open seating.

Holiday on the Square

San Ramon's annual holiday tree lighting ceremony will take place as planned, this time happening the newly opened City Center. Visitors can take a free selfie with Sidecar Santa in a revamped sleigh complete with retro motorcycle and sidecar, along with musical performances, coffee/chocolate cheer stations and seasonal shopping options for all ages.

This year's "Holiday on the Square" event is scheduled to take place from 4-8 p.m. on Nov. 28-30. For more information, visit citycenterbishopranch.com.

Holiday Shorts 2018: 'A Long Winter's Tale'

Also at the Firehouse, Creatures of Impulse will perform an interactive, unpredictable holiday improv show with "A Long Winter's Tale" from Nov. 27-30. The young performers will start the show with a host of holiday-themed games, scenes and improvised sketches in the first act, and then the audience will vote on which short vignette the troupe will turn into an improvised "play" for the second act -- creating a unique performance for each distinct audience.

Shows begin both nights at 7:30 p.m., with doors opening at 7:10 p.m. Student tickets are priced at $7 and $12 for adults, with tickets available for purchase at firehousearts.org.

Dublin annual holiday tree lighting ceremony

A week after Thanksgiving, the city of Dublin will host their own tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 29, starting at 7 p.m. at the Dublin Civic Center, 100 Civic Plaza.

Celebrating its 35th year of existence, the ceremony will feature seasonal entertainment, cookies and hot cocoa...along with a special North Pole visitor.

'Sing-It-Yourself Messiah'

Prep your vocal chords and come sing along with the Valley Concert Chorale's annual "Sing-It-Yourself Messiah" holiday tradition, taking place this year on Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church, 4743 East Ave. in Livermore. Singers of all ages are invited to join in singing Part I of Handel's great choral masterpiece, also known as the Christmas portion of "Messiah," which concludes with the famed "Hallelujah Chorus."

Participants are encouraged to bring their own copy of "Messiah," though there will be some copies available to borrow; those who wish to simply listen are also welcome to attend. Tickets are $15 and can be ordered in advance by calling 866-4003 or by visiting the Chorale's website at valleyconcertchorale.org.

Pleasanton Hometown Holiday Parade

The city of Pleasanton will usher in the month of December with a Hometown Holiday Celebration on Dec. 1, starting at 5 p.m. with a parade down Main Street, followed by a tree lighting ceremony that will include musical entertainment, the official tree lighting by Mayor Jerry Thorne and a special Santa appearance.

Those wishing to participate as a volunteer or by entering into the parade can visit the event website at hometownholiday.com. The deadline for submittals is Wednesday.

Livermore Home for the Holidays

The city of Livermore will herald the holidays with their own "Home for the Holidays" celebration taking over downtown from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Sponsored by Marcel Orthodontics, Lizzie Fountain will be converted into a "winter fun zone" for kids in fifth grade and under, complete with characters from the movie "Frozen," hot chocolate, snowflakes, face painting, live entertainment and more.

Holiday Sights & Sounds Parade and Tree Lighting

Following the "Home for the Holidays" festivities, downtown Livermore will continue the celebration with the annual Holiday Sights & Sounds Parade and Tree Lighting on Dec. 1 from 6-8 p.m.

The parade will feature over 50 floats from local businesses, clubs, marching bands and more making their way down First Street in downtown Livermore, followed by the annual tree lighting and, of course, another Santa appearance as he makes his way around the Tri-Valley.

The city is accepting parade entry applications through Nov. 25. For more information, visit livermoredowntown.com.

Livermore-Amador Symphony Free Family Concert

The Livermore-Amador Symphony will present their fourth annual family concert, with free admission, on Dec. 1 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, 2400 First St. The concert, sponsored by the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, will feature holiday favorites, music by Leonard Bernstein, an instrument "petting zoo" in the lobby and select dance performances from the Nutcracker by Valley Dance Theatre.

The show begins at 3 p.m., and while the show is free, tickets still need to be obtained from the Bankhead ticket office, by calling 373-6800 or online at livermoreamadorsymphony.org or bankheadtheater.org.

Harmony Fusion Chorus Holiday Show

Harmony Fusion Chorus, a women's barbershop show chorus and chapter of Sweet Adelines International, will perform carols and popular holiday songs in their "Tunes and Tinsel" performance on Dec. 2, featuring favorites such as "Sleigh Ride," "Let it Snow" and "Winter Wonderland."

The chorus will be joined by two local youth musical groups, the Sycamore Chamber Orchestra and Livermore High School Show Choir. The show will begin at 3 p.m. at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 1385 S. Livermore Ave., Livermore.

Shabbat Hanukkah

Congregation Beth Emek will be hosting its annual Shabbat Hanukkah service on Dec. 7, in honor of the Jewish holiday which falls this year from Dec. 2 through 10. Attendees are invited to bring their Hanukkah Menorah to light at the song-filled service, which will begin at 8 p.m. Hanukkah treats will follow at the "Oneg Shabbat," or celebratory gathering after Sabbath services.

Congregation Beth Emek is located at 3400 Nevada Court in Pleasanton. For more information, visit bethemek.org.

Chabad of the Tri-Valley Chanukah celebrations

Chabad of the Tri-Valley will also hold their own Chanukah festivities and services over the course of the eight-day Jewish holiday.

On Dec. 2, the Chabad will host a "build-your-own-menorah-workshop" in conjunction with the Home Depot in Pleasanton, complete with Jewish music, gelt, dreidels, music and refreshments. The event will take place at the Home Depot from 11 a.m. to noon, and is open to families and children of all ages. Admission is free, but an RSVP is required.

Later that evening, the Chabad will host a Chanukah menorah car parade from 5:30-7 p.m. in the streets surrounding the synagogue at 3370 Hopyard Road. A police escort will escort congregants in cars adorned by rooftop electric menorahs, ending at the Chabad with a menorah lighting and Chanukah Bash. No charge, but an RSVP is required.

A Chanukah Wonderland will take over the Grand Court at Stoneridge Shopping on Dec. 4 from 5:30-7 p.m. The event is open to all, and attendees are invited to celebrate the "Festival of Lights" with live music, a holiday game and craft centers, balloon entertainment, Chanukah photo ops and face painting and concluding with the lighting of a nine-foot menorah.

And the Chabad will take the celebration over to the Bankhead Theater in downtown Livermore with "Chanukah Under the Stars," open to all. Attendees will light up Livermore's Menorah, eat hot latkes and Chanukah doughnuts, enjoy musical entertainment, meet with city dignitaries and partake in glow-in-the-dark fun.

December People

Classic rock meets Christmas in Pleasanton this season, with a performance by the December People at the Firehouse Arts Center on Dec. 7 and 8.

Returning to town, the five-musician group will perform holiday favorites -- with a rock twist. The performance will start at 8 p.m. on both nights, with tickets between $31 and $41. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit firehousearts.org.

Wreaths Across Pleasanton

To recognize and honor local veterans, residents are invited to participate in Wreaths Across Pleasanton, being celebrated in conjunction with the national "Wreaths Across America Day" on Dec. 15. Organized by several civic organizations led by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 and American Legion Post 237, locals can participate in the wreath assembly on Dec. 8 or wreath placement ceremony on Dec. 15 at the Pleasanton Cemetery, 5780 Sunol Blvd.

Wreath assembly will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 1225 Hopyard Road -- participants are instructed to bring garden gloves, clippers and/or pliers, and to dress for chilly weather. For the official wreath placement on Dec. 15, the posts will be set up at 9 a.m., with the blessing of the wreaths and wreath placement beginning at noon.

'The Nutcracker'

Have visions of sugar plum fairies been dancing in your head? Look no further than the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, where Valley Dance Theatre will be presenting its 37th annual rendition of Tchaikovsky's ballet classic "The Nutcracker" from Dec. 8-16.

This year's rendition will feature special guest artist Maxwell Simoes, who will take on the roles of Snow King in Act I and Cavalier in Act II, and music will be performed by the Valley Dance Theatre Pit Orchestra. Evening shows will start at the Bankhead at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8, 14, 15 and 16, with 2 p.m. matinees on Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16.

Tickets cost $33-$42 for adults and $21 for students 18 and younger, and can be purchased online at lvpac.org, by phone at 373-6800 or in person at the Bankhead Theater box office.

'Impressions of The Nutcracker'

San Ramon Valley residents will have their own Nutcracker-viewing opportunities a little closer to home. The San Ramon Valley Dance Academy will present Impressions of The Nutcracker on Dec. 8 and 9 at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, 10550 Albion Road, San Ramon.

The Dec. 8 (Saturday) shows will begin at 4 and 7 p.m., respectively, while the Dec. 9 (Sunday) shows are set to start at 1 and 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit SanRamonPerformingArts.com.

Tri-Valley Haven donation drive

Tri-Valley Haven is seeking gift donations for local families and people in need this season, and will be hosting a donation drive from Dec. 10-12, with the gathered goods going toward the shelter's Holiday Warehouse. Last year, the nonprofit was able to provide holiday food and gifts for 4,569 people, or 1,160 households -- the warehouse has the added benefit of allowing parents to pick out presents for their children themselves.

New, unwrapped presents can be delivered to Livermore's Asbury Church, 4743 East Ave. on Dec. 10-12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by calling Christine at 667-2707. The shelter seeks gifts for those of all ages, but especially needs presents for teens. A full list of suggested items can be found online at trivalleyhaven.org.

Dublin 'Warm Wishes' Gift Drive

Team Dublin, the city's employee organization, is hosting its own "Warm Wishes" gift drive and invites locals to take part and donate a gift to a neighbor in need by Dec. 10. This year, the gifts gathered will go to veteran families currently living in affordable housing at Valor Crossing and to children of military personnel stationed at Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area.

The drive is already underway. To participate, visit the Dublin Civic Center, Shannon Community Center or the Dublin Senior Center, and choose a gift tag representing a wish, and then purchase and wrap the item, to be returned with the tag by 5 p.m. Dec. 10. For more information, call 833-6650.

'Mary Poppins JR.'

Everyone's favorite magical nanny will swoop into Pleasanton this December for Civic Arts Stage Company's production of "Mary Poppins JR.," a Broadway JR. musical based on P. L. Travers' book, the popular Disney movie and award-winning musical that played for over 2,500 shows.

Civic Arts, a youth and family theater company based out of the Firehouse Arts Center, will perform the show at the Amador Theater, 1155 Santa Rita Road, from Dec. 14-23. Showtimes begin at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with matinees starting at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets range from $7 to $18. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit firehousearts.org.

Branden & James

The cello and vocal duo of Branden & James will perform at the Firehouse this December, performing covers and fan favorites both traditional and contemporary, with a holiday twist. In addition to their music, the two will pepper their show with personal anecdotes and comedy, from Branden's experience on "America's Got Talent" to James' tales from his Australian upbringing.

The show will take place Dec. 16 at 2 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $18 to $28. For more information or to buy tickets, go to firehousearts.org.

Holiday Magic

On Dec. 15, the San Ramon Community Chorus and dancers will bring some magic to the Front Row Theater, 17011 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon, with their free "Holiday Magic" performance.

The show is set to begin at 2 p.m. For more information, go to SanRamonPerformingArts.com.

Jeff Bordes and Friends

Pleasanton-grown trumpeter Jeff Bordes will return to the Firehouse for his annual holiday show, this year presenting a "Jazzy New Orleans Christmas," performing some classics along with their holiday original "The Santa Claus Second Line."

The show will happen on Dec. 22, beginning at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $18-$28 and can be purchased online at firehousearts.com.

Winter Holiday Festival

The San Ramon Symphonic Band will present a "Winter Holiday Festival" at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 23 in the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit SanRamonPerformingArts.com.

The Big Fat Year-End Kiss-Off

Get ready to kiss 2018 goodbye with the Firehouse Arts Center's 26th annual year-end comedy show, the Big Fat Year-End Kiss-Off. This year's event will feature stand up, improv and "loosely written" sketches by Will Durst & Friends.

The show will take place on Dec. 27, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets cost between $27 and $30, and can be purchased online at firehousearts.com.

Pleasanton Art League

The Pleasanton Art League is currently presenting "Hues and Textures," its 10th annual juried fine arts exhibition and demonstrations at the Firehouse Arts Center's Harrington Gallery, on display through Dec. 15. The exhibit features pastels, colored pencil works, oil painting and watercolors from local artists, with special demonstrations by the artists on Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m.

Regular gallery hours are 12-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. A $5 donation is suggested to visit the exhibit.

Food Pantry at Valley Bible Church

The holidays should be a joyous time for all, and Valley Bible Church is reminding locals that they operate a food pantry Thursday evenings from 6:30-8 p.m. to serve anyone in need of food.

No proof of residency is required -- anyone in need is invited to simply come and get a few bags at Valley Bible Church, 7106 Johnson Dr., Pleasanton.

Al-Anon and Alateen

Al-Anon and Alateen are also important resources for those in need, especially at this time of year. The two groups are part of the Al-Anon Family Groups, offering support for families and friends of problem drinkers; Alateen specifically is a fellowship of young people whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking.

For more information, visit alanonTriValley.org.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

For those who personally have experienced a mental illness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) TriValley Connection Support Group meets Wednesdays from 7:15-8:45 p.m. at St. Clare's Episcopal Church, 3350 Hopyard Road, offering education and support.

For more information, go to nami-trivalley.org.

Holiday Fund

The Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund campaign gets underway next Friday and will run into January. With your contributions, the Weekly, in partnership with Silicon Valley Community Foundation, will give grants to 15 local nonprofits serving the needs of children and families in the Pleasanton area.

All funds will be held by Silicon Valley Community Foundation and will be tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Donations should be made payable to the foundation. Credit card gifts may be made at siliconvalleycf.org/pleasantonweeklyholidayfund.

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