Entries tagged with “Tomales Community Park”.


Tomales was founded in 1850, and almost a thousand people showed up Sunday for the town’s annual Founders’ Day celebration. It was a huge crowd for a town with only 200 or so year-round residents. Attracting all the visitors were both a parade and festivities in the town park.

This year the parade route was shortened to just one long block of the main street, Highway 1. The reduction allowed the Highway Patrol to reroute traffic onto Dillon Beach Road, Carrie Street, and Second Street instead of having to temporarily stop all vehicles on the highway.

Bystanders clapped as the US Coast Guard honor guard from the Two Rock Training Center marched past in the early going of the parade.

The middle of a long line of motorcycles that rumbled up the main street.

The Redwood Empire Harley Owners Group, affectionately known as HOGS, provided the riders. HOGS is based in Rohnert Park, and among its activities is raising money for Meals on Wheels.

A flowery float.

Hands Full Farm of Valley Ford is run by the truck’s driver, Anna Erickson, a fifth generation rancher. The farm has now gone “big time into eggs and lots of chickens,” she says but adds that she still finds time to make “jams and homemade goodies.” _______________________________________________________________

At the microphone.

From the balcony over Diekmann’s General Store, Bert Crews and Lena Furlong, both of Tomales, were the parade announcers. _______________________________________________________________

The Stair Builders float, a motorized mini go-cart, was entered by George R. Magan, whose business designs, constructs, delivers, and installs handcrafted staircases. The business, which previously operated in Petaluma, has moved into Tomales’ Cerini Garage building.

The Hubbub Club from Graton, Sonoma County, provided upbeat music and some lively dancing.

School spirit.

Tomales High cheerleaders sang out as they marched up the main street.

Dan’s Auto Repair of Tomales again this year entered a clown car that fell apart during the procession and had to be reassembled before continuing.

The Sam Brannan Chapter of E Clampus Vitus is an annual entry in the parade.

The Clampers, a fraternal organization dedicated to the study and preservation of Western heritage, has memorialized events in Tomales history. This Napa-based chapter has also contributed greatly to Tomales Community Park’s remodeling project.

District 3 Dairy Princess Francesa (Frankie) Gambonini (right) and first alternate Jessi Peterson are this year’s goodwill ambassadors for the North Bay dairy industry. They are riding in a 2008 Corvette driven by Bill Maestretti of Maestretti and Son Firewood.

Marshall sculptor Jason McLean drove a truck carrying his elaborate creation called “Got Art?” A skateboarder caught a ride by holding onto the rear.

Riding another McLean entry, which has appeared in a number of parades, is Shannon Hobbs.

A doodle, llama, and goat procession.

A 13-year-old llama named Crunch was led by Jeff Etemad of Tunnel Hill Ranch in Tomales. In front of Jeff, his son Cam led a golden doodle named Lucky. They were accompanied by Aidan Black. Following close behind the llama were the Barlas Boer Goats,  great for clearing brush, entered by Nancy Barlas of Petaluma.

Rancher Al Poncia of Tomales rides on a 1946 International truck driven by Gary Thornton of the Thornton Ranch. Al’s son Loren was the grand marshal of the parade.

A 1950 Farmall M.

The sexagenarian tractor, which was driven by Johnny Sanchez, pulled a trailer carrying seven Sanchez grandchildren, who ranged in age from 2 to 10. The Sanchez family ranch is located on Fallon Road northeast of town. ________________________________________________________________

A prophet (Beth Koelker of Tomales) carried a “visual alert” that “The End Is Near,” the end of the parade, that is.

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After the parade, most of the crowd repaired to Tomales Community Park where booths sold food, drinks, crafts, and more throughout the afternoon.

Seven women sold tamales to raise funds for the Reading Book Club of Tomales. The private group is comprised of people who enjoy reading books published in Spanish.

Standing at center (from left) are booster club board members Debbie Becera, John Azevedo, and Missy Calvi.

Tomales Booster Club sold t-shirts and sweatshirts to raise money for Tomales High sports. The group, which just put in a new scoreboard at the football field, also raises funds for scholarships and puts on sports banquets.

Festivities in Tomales are always grand fun, and the only serious problem I noticed Sunday was that the park’s two restrooms were about to run out of T.P. Unable to find any park personnel to restock the lavatories, I walked a block to the general store and bought a four-roll package. I then asked the first two people waiting in line for a door to open to each take a couple of rolls in with them. Both were more than pleased to do so.

“Well, I’ve done my good deed for today,” I told a friend from Marshall afterward. “So everything came out all right in the end,” the older man quipped.

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 √® 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 Clavaud’s 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.”