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Santa trades in sleigh for one fierce ride

Original Post: Newark Patch.com

Forty motorcycle clubs from all over the Bay Area drove their muscular Harley Davidson bikes to Newark last weekend, bringing toys and other gifts to low-income families.

“The children are more excited about the bikers, more than anything” said Union City resident and mother of two, Alisha McPheeters.

After the bikers’ grand entrance, the kids lined up to take a picture with the “Santa Biker.”

Next – kids visited a room stuffed with toys.

Each kid entered the room with a biker, who helped pick out whatever gift that the boy or girl wanted to bring home.

The toy drive was held along Ruschin Drive in Newark on Sunday, December 12. It was organized by the Tri-Cities League of Volunteers different bikers associations in the Bay Area.

The families from Newark, Union City, Fremont and other neighboring cities attended the toy drive.

Patch.com Reporter Richgail Enriquez  interviewed the bikers, the kids, and the families who enjoyed the festivities.

If you want more information, or if you like to donate or volunteer, you may contact the Tri-Cities League of Volunteers at 510-793-5683, or visit their website at www.lov.org


What you need to know before heading to the mall

Original Post: NewarkPatch.com

NewPark Mall officials want to help everyone keep an eye on their toys, clothes and presents as well as their personal items as they navigate the holiday shopping season.

Officers around the Bay Area are investigating a number of robberies. Authorities in Walnut Creek want to know if an attempted robbery at a Lafayette jewelry store Friday was connected to another robbery spree in the area.

The Newark Police Department reported at least seven arrests linked to attempted thefts at Sears, the Burlington Coat Factory and other department stores for the period covering December 4-13.

According to general manager Kelly Gardner, there are signs at NewPark Mall entrances that remind shoppers to lock their cars, take their keys and hide their belongings.

Watch this video to find out more ways to keep your belongings safe while taking advantage of the biggest deals inside the mall.

If you have questions or need help, call NewPark Mall Security at 510-284-1690.


Kids at Kitayama Elementary School braved the stage for the first time

Original Post: Union City Patch.com

Nothing makes the holiday season more heart warming than witnessing children perform timeless holiday music.

On Dec. 8, the students of Kitayama Elementary School performed in their school’s annual winter concert.

This year, two groups of kids went on stage: a recorder ensemble and a group choir.

The students showcased classic holiday songs such as “Deck the Halls,” “Jingle Bells,” and many more.

Jeff Weissman, Kitayama’s music teacher, said he used to have the music department all to himself and is delighted to collaborate with a new teacher, Amanda Kairys. Weissman has been teaching at Kitayama for about ten years and each year he picks up something new from his diverse students, he said. His job the night of the showcase was to make sure the kids feel at ease because for most of them, the show was their first time to be in front of an audience.

And though most of the kids did admit to be nervous, everyone put their best foot forward to impress their families in the crowd. The school’s multi-purpose room was packed with relatives and friends with cameras in hand, ready to capture the moment their little ones first stepped on stage.

The parents say children should be encouraged to explore music and arts to develop skills that would complement not only the kids’ academics but their life skills as well.

Meanwhile, Kairys said having the kids celebrate the holidays through music brings the community together and delivers the holiday spirit no other form can.

And deliver the kids did.

Reporter Richgail Enriquez was at the concert with the sights and sounds of the Kitayama Winter Showcase.


Prop 19, sends the wrong message to kids?

California voters will have big, historical decisions to make on Election Day, including whether or not to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Proposition 19, if passed, will regulate, control and tax the purchase and use of marijuana in the state of California.
Proponents say the tax money will help alleviate the state’s budget crisis. They also say Prop 19 will take marijuana out of the hands of minors because only people age 21 or older could carry up to an ounce.

Opponents say if Prop 19 passes, marjiuana use will only become more attractive among minors because it sends the message that using the substance is no big deal.

Reporter Richgail Enriquez spoke to both sides of the debate in Castro Valley.

Spooky Houses in Union City; Enter if you dare

(original post: Union City Patch.com)

Trick-or-treaters: Be afraid, be very afraid, because you are in for a thrill this year.

Filled with ghoulish decor, tombstones and sound effects, the front yard of the Gonzalez family home along Tulane Street catches the attention of everyone who passes by, especially the young ones.

“The smaller kids get really scared,” says Kristal Gonzalez, homeowner of the spooky house on Tulane Street.

Gonzales’ family also decorates for Christmas, but it’s not as fun as it is during Halloween–they can be more creative with being scary. She says her kids especially love to brainstorm and see their ideas come alive, or undead, so to speak.

Just a couple of blocks away from the Gonzales home, another house aims to give you a chill.

Along Colgate Drive, realistic-looking monsters hang, and crawl, on the Sanchez’s front yard. You’ll find a giant tarantula, an evil-looking clown and a zombie on the grass, among other creepy creatures.

Fernando Sanchez says he is not too fond of the decorations, not because they’re scary, but because he’s in charge of installing them.

“As long as my wife and kids are happy though, I don’t mind,” Sanchez says.

Colgate Drive is a popular area among trick-or-treaters because it’s close to James Logan High School. Most high school kids spread the word once they’ve seen the decorative houses in the neighborhood, Sanchez says.

I dared to check out both the Gonzales and Sanchez’s Halloween homes to give you a video tour. Click on the video above to see the full report.



Special Needs Residents showed, they too, can turn the party up

(original post: Union City Patch.com)

Dancing to the music of Usher, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, Tri-City residents with special needs showed they, too, can turn the party up.

They brought their good spirits and best costumes to the 5th Annual Halloween Social at the Ralph and Mary Ruggieri Senior Center on Oct. 22.

Along with dancing, guests also enjoyed food, refreshments and prizes. The highlight of the night was the costume competition, which consisted of three categories: scariest, funniest and best overall costume.

Green Oak Development Center, a day program for those with special needs, organized the social with the assistance of Union City Leisure Services and The ARC of Alameda.

Gina Rivera, executive director of Green Oak, said guests come from separate caring homes and seldom have an opportunity to interact with their peers. The Halloween social is a nice way to get them together to mingle and have a good time, she said.

Reporter Richgail Enriquez was at the Halloween social to learn more about the celebration.

Green Oak Development Center can be reached at 510-441-8300. It has two locations: The Main Campus at 2949 Whipple Road, Union City, CA, and the Cypress Campus at 2827 Whipple Road, Union City, CA. A third location is opening soon in San Jose.