Town Crier: Oakland in fall the best place, season of all

MONTCLARION: September 24, 2014

It’s officially autumn — and not a moment too soon. We are desperate for rain, cooler temps and those mellowcreme candies shaped like pumpkins and tri-colored teeth. I’m already munching my way through a bag of Brach’s Autumn Mix, and it’s not even October.

Fall has its own kind of feel. At Lake Merritt the other evening, I saw the season’s first leaf dance as an oak sprig swirled rhythmically to earth. The setting sun was a giant orange orb casting light beams across the lake, and I wanted a seat at the show.
My friend and I chose the Terrace Room (, perched proudly near the water in the Lake Merritt Hotel. Built in 1927, this Mediterranean art deco landmark is one of Oakland’s real beauties, and a hot spot for dancing in the 1930s and 1940s.
It turns out it’s regaining prominence. The Terrace Room is, once again, bringing in bands to its storied showroom. The night we were there, Steve Lucky and the Rumba Bums lit up the dance floor with singer Carmen Getit. It was a sensual treat to watch dancers twirling to a backdrop of Lake Merritt’s necklace of lights ringing the shimmering shores.
Oakland is beautiful in all seasons, but it’s no secret that I prefer fall. There’s something about autumn’s palette of gingery colors that goes perfectly with cool jazz and sunsets on a jewel of a downtown lake.

Email bag: Are you hesitant to answer the doorbell these days? A lot of people are thanks, in part, to solicitors. But Oakland, in fact, issues very few permits for this kind of activity, says reader MJ Templin. He reminds us that the “solicitors” may actually be casing the neighborhood for future burglaries. If the stranger at your door doesn’t have a permit, report him or her to Oakland’s nonemergency police number at 510-777-3333.

Around town: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are half-price boat days at Lake Chabot. The water level is pretty, low but it’s still fun to rent a kayak and paddle past the island, where a pod of pelicans is scooping up a good daily catch.
And speaking of water, the Lake Temescal waterfall is cascading again, adding a splash to the already popular lakeside trail. The Regional Parks Foundation supported the project, which came in under-budget ($35,000) and took just two months to complete.

Wool hats and handbags are a few of my favorite things at this weekend’s Montclair Sidewalk Fine Arts and Crafts Fall Fest. More than 70 artists and crofters will display their wares Saturday and Sunday.

And on the music scene, Zion Lutheran Church is having a garden party fundraiser Saturday with live music by the high-octane band Houston Jones. Beer and brats will help usher in autumn, and you can get tickets and a preview of the music at

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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