Growing up in Alameda’s park system was far more than just baseball and athletics. There were many Alameda Recreation and Park Department programs throughout the summer that fostered a strong sense of community. One such activity was Family Night at your neighborhood park.
On the afternoon of the event, a white City of Alameda truck would drive into the park delivering folding tables and chairs. By 6:00 pm, the smell of BBQs at work would start to start to permeate the neighborhood. Moms would spread blankets and table cloths to display bowls and containers filled with all kinds of delectable goodies. Tubs of iced Shasta and Cragmont sodas would appear. No one ever went hungry at these affairs.
The sound of static crackled over of the portable PA system as various announcements would begin the official portion of the evening. Sometimes there was music and other entertainment. Always there was the sound of kids and families having fun.
“I distinctly remember that Longfellow Park Family Night in 1972. My dad brought with him a friend who was part of the night’s entertainment. He proclaimed to be the actual voice of Donald Duck, and proceeded to chat with the kids in “character.” Me, Phil, and John were a bit skeptical. Maybe it was just us, but we never heard Donald Duck with a Filipino accent….”