Show will go on on Picardy


MONTCLARION NEWSPAPER – DECEMBER 19, 2008

AN OPEN LETTER to my Oakland neighbors: I’ve been noticing the effort you’ve put into decorating your yards for the holidays and I want to thank you. The cascading blue lights are magical and the treetop twinklers are heavenly. I get goose bumps when I see icicle lights on the rooftops and candy canes lining your walks.

So you can see why I was concerned when a reader called with an alarming report: The lights were not up on Oakland’s Christmas Lane this year.

For 66 years, Picardy Street (off Seminary) near Mills College has put on a holiday light display to rival any in the country. Some 71 charming Tudors adorned in a kaleidoscope of colored lights, with animated Santas and inflatable snowmen bobbing merrily on neatly manicured lawns.

Some of us are a little slow in getting the lights up this year, says longtime resident Maxie McKinney, who is waiting for her grandkids to help her with the decorations. Others on Picardy Street are waiting until closer to Christmas to turn on their lights because of the economy and all. A lot of people have lost their jobs, says McKinney, who worries that a big display of holiday lights might make criminals think they have a lot of money in the modest, middle-class neighborhood.

Yet, the show will go on because it’s tradition. I know people come and look forward to it, says McKinney.

She’s right. The lights of Picardy Street are a symbol of hope in difficult times. Because if 71 racially and religiously diverse families can come together like this each Christmas season so can the rest of us.

About Town: Thanks to John Castaldi for snapping a photo of Monday’s snowfall on Manzanita Drive in the Oakland hills. Big, juicy flakes fell fast and furiously, then melted away as the sun came out. I still dream of the day when I can snowboard all the way down Shepherd Canyon Road. I hope it happens before I need a walker.

Meanwhile, riders are still waiting for a new bus bench on Moraga at Medau. The bench disappeared more than a month ago, apparently removed by the city when it moved the garbage can. At least that’s what AC Transit drivers claim as they pick up weary passengers in front of Crown Wine and Spirits.

Animal Tales: It’s hard to tell one turkey from another, but a wild gobbler has been hunting and pecking on Park Boulevard at Mountain. Reader Michael Levy says he has spotted the bird a number of times near the median strip. No word on whether our feathered friend may be trying to mate with the metal reindeer in the tall grass.

And speaking of animals, a wily coyote followed my friends and me the other day on the ridgeline above the Moraga Trail in Canyon. What a magnificent creature! He was obviously prowling for food, perhaps thinking three beautiful women would make a tasty meal. Fat chance. After a few minutes he disappeared into the brush, no doubt to find something closer to his own size.

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