Pleasanton's downtown, which centers around a six-block stretch of Main Street, offers a variety of unique shops and restaurants as well as a year-round calendar of special events.
"Downtown, with all the activities and shops and great looking historic buildings, is the core of the whole community," explains Craig Scharton, executive director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association.
It's clear that the community agrees. In 1994, a $3 million project renovatedthe area. Sidewalks were widened and benches and shade trees added to preserve downtown as the central focal point for the community and to enhance its personable character.
The renovations have really paid off. Buildings are stuffed with an impressive array of businesses. Restaurants range from sidewalk cafes offering light fare to more formal establishments with gourmet cuisine.
Retail stores sell everything from classic cars to baked goods and kitchen supplies to original art. There's even a hardware store that looks as though it's changed little since the turn of the century.
There are also a host of firms offering professional services, including architects, attorneys, dentists, doctors, and insurance agents.
Downtown still serves as a gathering point for the community, whether it's through the Farmer's Market held each Saturday or the many special events held every year.
Many downtown events are held on a weekly or monthly basis, though some only take place during warmer months.
In addition to the Farmer's Market, regular events include the following:
First Wednesday Street Parties , May through October - T hs ongoing event, just finishing its second year, has brought growing crowds downtown for live music, food, a beer and wine garden, and more.
"We wanted to take the local businesses and the local community groups and create a festival for them, to put them on stage," he says.
Local community groups are entitled to free booths at the event for distribution of information, making it an event with a purpose as well.
Several Hacienda business, including CarrAmerica and PeopleSoft, have sponsored this event in its first two years.
Concerts in the Park , Friday nights May through Labor Day - This series, sponsored by the Tri-Valley Herald, features a variety of musical acts from different genres. A longstanding event, the shows have become a big favorite in the community.
Antique Faires , May and October - Throngs of antique lovers from throughout Northern California attend this event.
The Downtown Association also has a number of events planned for the upcoming holiday season:The Halloween Catwalk , October 30, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. - The Catwalk is a special celebration for younger children and their parents.
"We get about 50 different businesses that handout candies or treats, and thousands of kids," says Scharton.
This will be the first year that Main Street will be closed for the event, which also features a costume contest for homemade, non-violent costumes.
"The nice thing about this event is that it is during the daylight hours and it really attracts the younger kids," he adds.
The Catwalk starts at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, where bags and a map of participating businesses is distributed.
Bay Area Choir Festival , November 26, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. - This year will be the first for this event, where choirs and choruses from throughout the Bay Area will visit to provide strolling musical accompaniment to downtown shoppers.
"We're simply inviting every choral group to downtown and we're getting a good response from local choruses and school groups," he says.
Hometown Holiday Celebration , December 4 - A rousing crowd is expected for this day, beginning with Pleasanton's traditional Holiday Parade.
The parade serves as a showcase for community groups of all shapes and sizes, from boy and girl scout troops to youth sports teams and local churches.
"It's a popular parade," says Scharton. "The street is just packed."
After the parade, the day continues with the tree lighting ceremony in front of the Livermore Amador Valley Historical Museum.
"All the businesses stay open and many of them will have music or goodies," he adds. "The street stays closed until 9:00, so you can freely walk anywhere in downtown."
Victorian Holiday Evening , December 10, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. - About 60 to 70 businesses will be open for this event, which features carriage rides, pictures with Santa Claus, and treats like cookies, cakes and cider.
"We also invite a variety of artists to come out that night so it becomes a holiday theme around arts and Victorian costumes," says Scharton.
Heritage Days , June - Pleasanton's celebration of its fascinating history, Heritage Days draws up to 40,000 people for the weekend. A traditional crafts fair is held, live music is performed all weekend from a central stage, and the Heritage Days Barbecue Saturday night has also become a Pleasanton favorite.
Hot Rod Heaven , August - Held the Saturday night of the annual Good Guys Car Show at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, Hot Rod Heaven draws an estimated 35,000 people, many of whom show off their prized classic cars and hot rods. In fact, the area is closed to all vehicle traffic that's not a classic beauty, registered for the event.
"That event has a life of its own," says Scharton. "We even have a separate web page for that."
For more information on any of these events, contact the Pleasanton Downtown Association at (925) 484-2199 or access their web site. The PDA is located at 235 Main Street, Suite B.
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