Sun 7 Jul 2013
How a sewer district came to run a park is one of those idiosyncratic West Marin stories.
Tomales Community Services District was created in 1998 to take over the town’s sewer system from North Marin Water District. At the time, Tomales already had a park, which had opened in 1982. However, after state government inspected the park’s playground equipment and found it unsafe, the district with grants and volunteer labor by townspeople took on making ambitious improvements, including — appropriately — creating the town’s first public restrooms.
Development and maintenance of the park continue to be financed by a variety of grants and fundraisers, with one of the fundraisers held this past Sunday: the third annual Party in the Park.
Giving particular importance to the fundraiser was the Dean Witter Foundation of San Francisco, which had agreed to match dollar for dollar all the money raised up to $10,000.
Having fun selling Tomales Community Park wine glasses, as well as tickets for oysters and drinks.
Among the musical groups entertaining the crowd was the Gary Foster Trio from Sebastopol. Foster (center) also happens to be the organist for Tomales Presbyterian Church. He delighted the crowd by singing rhythm and blues such as What’d I Say, rock ‘n’ roll such as Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, and country music such as Route 66. But what dazzled many of us was his unexpectedly breaking out of this repertoire to sing a bit of grand opera, giving a masterful performance of La donna è mobile from Verdi’s Rigoletto.
Hoop dancing to most of the music (except Verdi’s) were young people led by Lilea Duran (center in red and black). Lilea teaches adult classes and performs throughout the Bay Area with her company Sunglow Hoop Dance. She also takes part in Vegetable Circus whose mission is to get kids excited about eating their vegetables and staying active in fun, creative ways. Working with schools, youth groups, and other community organizations, Vegetable Circus teaches the kids circus arts like hula hooping. Photo by Lynn Axelrod
Tomales Regional History Center raised funds by selling raffle tickets for a quilt. Alex Mitchell (center), president of the center’s board of directors, is seen here manning the ticket booth.
Sounding like he was auctioning livestock, Sam Dolcini with help from Deborah Parrish raised money by auctioning such prizes as two nights at Donna and Marc Clavauds’ Marinette Cottage in Tomales and a day at Dillon Beach for 20 people.
Among the prizes auctioned was this oil painting by Kathryn LeMieux of a cottage in the Tomales Bay hamlet of Hamlet. During the days of the North Pacific Coast narrow-gauge railway line (1875-1930), Hamlet was a whistlestop with its own post office, restaurant, oyster beds, and cannery. Notwithstanding the rail line’s closing, the homes, oyster beds, and restaurant remained in use.
Sadly, the historic village was acquired by the National Park Service in 1987, thus preventing any commercial or residential use of Hamlet’s buildings. Unoccupied, they were easy prey for burglars who stole furnishings. Hamlet had always been in the line of storms on the bay, and the Park Service made no effort to maintain the old buildings. Some collapsed, and in 2003, the Park Service took a bulldozer to those that remained.
Another prize Dolcini auctioned was this model of a Victorian home, which Barbara Taddei of Tomales created over four years working off and on. Liz Miller of Dillon Beach made the winning bid of $350. Photo by Lynn Axelrod
Tomales Volunteer Fire Department used the party as an occasion to recruit new members. The firefighters reminded me they will hold their own fundraiser, a “country breakfast” from 7:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, July 21, at Tomales Town Hall.
At a popular booth selling books, my partner Lynn found a book she’d always wanted to read, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman. The author is perhaps best known for The Guns of August, a history of the beginning of World War I.
And what festival in West Marin would be complete without face painting? Youngsters chose designs that ranged from cats to ghosts to super heroes. For some kids, getting their face painted was a highlight of the jovial afternoon.
By my lights, Tomales with a population of only 200 has a disproportionate amount of fun. The community services district website observes, “Tomales is the town that West Marin forgot, and we like it that way. A few times a year the park comes alive with activity, but most of the time the pace is pleasantly slow, the dogs friendly, and good food close at hand.”