Holidays kick off with toy drive, hot meals

Season of giving begins in Martinez

Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – A Senior Center luncheon Nov. 20, and Alhambra High School Boosters Car Show Saturday, Nov. 21, are early indications the holiday season has started in Martinez.

Getting a six-day jump on Thanksgiving Day, which will be Nov. 26, the Martinez Senior Center, 818 Green St., is having its annual Thanksgiving luncheon at 11:45 Nov. 20.

The Senior Center’s lunch will have a traditional menu, with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, vegetables and a dinner roll. Admission is $12 for members and $14 for nonmembers, and seating is limited, said Rita Wells, a Senior Center front desk employee.

But the luncheon offers more than food, she said. Diana Star and the Hot Flashers, Vaudeville-style entertainers and dancers, will be performing for diners.

Those interested may call the Martinez Senior Center, (925) 370-8770.

The Alhambra High School Boosters, and the Midnighters Car Club that is organizing the car show at 150 E St. want to fill at least one truck, if not more, with toys for underprivileged children to receive at Christmas, said Al Boyce, event coordinator.

Last year, the Boosters had a toy drive at one of the Bulldog football games, Boyce said.

In the past, the organization has bypassed having a car show because some people have been nervous when they hear the names of some of the local car enthusiasts, he explained.

If “The Midnighters” didn’t give them pause, another Martinez club name, the “Hot Rod Hoodlums” did, he said.

However, other members of the Boosters knew car shows are a good draw and could help the organization get more toys for Martinez children who otherwise might have a sad Christmas or other holiday, he said.

Most of the rest came on board when they learned that “hot rodders” have progressed through the years, and instead of rattletrap cars they use for cruising or street racing, they often own lovingly-restored vehicles worth thousands of dollars. Some cars are “daily drivers,” piloted with pride. Others are “trailer queens” that are carefully extracted from their garages for display at car shows.

All types of cars will be on display at the Alhambra High School Boosters Toy Drive Car Show in the parking lot next to the school stadium, Boyce said. He’s expecting 80 to 100 entries.

It’s open to all makes, models and years. Entry is either a $20 cash donation to the drive or a new, unwrapped toy valued at least $20, he said. Boyce said up to three vintage and new trucks will be on display, and he hopes enough toys are brought to fill each of the vehicles.

The Steve Bonham Band will provide entertainment.

Before it’s done, Midnighters members will have presented 20 to 30 cars with awards. In addition, registration starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, and the show starts at 10 a.m.

The real winners will be underprivileged children and youth of Martinez, Boyce said. The collected toys will be given to Toys for Tots, which has promised that all toys donated in Martinez will be distributed to local children.

Loaves & Fishes, which normally supplies hot meals at its headquarters at 835 Ferry St., will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, as well as Nov. 27, said Jill Lawrence, its office manager.

However, Victory Outlook will have a Thanksgiving meal Saturday, Nov. 20, at Loaves & Fishes, and will be distributing jackets, backpacks and food boxes to the needy. Registration will start at 11 a.m. that day, and the meal will be served at noon.

Several other area organizations will be having special dinners near Thanksgiving.

Morello Hills Christian Church, 1000 Morello Hills Drive, will have a dinner from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The church will start construction of its annual Town of Bethlehem and Nativity display Saturday, Dec. 5, and the annual event will take place in the church parking lot at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19.

Among other area Thanksgiving events will be the Interfaith Potluck at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, at Community Presbyterian Church, 200 East Leland Road, Pittsburg. Those interested in attending should take a covered dish and call (925) 439-9361 for reservations.

The Multi-Faith Action Coalition will have a service at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 2925 Bonifacio St., Concord.

The Second Baptist Church of Martinez, 1020 Las Juntas St., will have a dinner at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25. Another dinner will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, at Beth Chiam Congregation, 1800 Holbrook Drive, Danville.

On Thanksgiving day, Nu-Rays sports bar, 709 Ferry Street, will serve free Thanksgiving dinner to those 21 and older from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States and Canada, and has its roots in earlier harvest festivals. A few records indicate that European settlers at Plymouth, a colony in modern-day Massachusetts, started the American celebration in 1621 to mark a successful harvest. Proponents in Virginia, Florida and Texas make claims of even earlier services of thanks.

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the fourth Thursday of November as the official date in this country. The Canadian holiday takes place the second Monday in October.

In the United States, the holiday will be observed officially Thursday, Nov. 26. It is a federal holiday, which means most government buildings, including Martinez City Hall and municipal offices, will be closed that day. The lobby of area post offices will also be closed, and most mail will not be delivered that day. City Hall and municipal offices will be closed Nov. 27 as well.

Among other closures, the John Muir National Historic Site, 4202 Alhambra Ave., also will be closed Nov. 26 in observance of Thanksgiving.

Not related to the holidays, Martinez Historical Museum, 1005 Escobar St., closed temporarily earlier this month for foundation construction and is expected to reopen to the public after the first of the year.
Many shoppers have started scouting for bargains after Thanksgiving dinner, and the day after Thanksgiving historically is called “Black Friday,” because merchants say it assures their stores of finishing the year in the black ink that signifies a profit.

Main Street Martinez will encourage residents to spend their money locally Saturday, Nov. 28, during “Small Business Saturday.” Shoppers who visit the Main Street office at 649 Main Street, Suite 106, Martinez, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day may pick up a complimentary shopping bag and a scavenger hunt “passport” to take to at least four participating businesses. Completed passports will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Downtown Gift Card.

In addition, the Downtown Holiday Ice Rink opens at the public parking lot at Marina Vista Avenue and Ferry Street at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. The rink will be open through Jan. 3. Hours and pricing are available to those visiting the website,

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