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Temescal sets up holiday ice rink–without ice

on December 19, 2008


Dec. 20–Snow on Mt. Diablo was one thing, but ice skating in Temescal… without ice?

The Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District is making no small plans to attract holiday shoppers to their neck of North Oakland this weekend. Beyond the usual good cheer, Santa and Christmas carols, the district’s first annual Holiday Skate and Stroll will feature an ersatz ice rink at 49th and Telegraph.
Saturday and Sunday, as many as 30 will be able to glide, spin and hockey stop on a temporary 48-by-39 foot hybrid-polymer rink for the price of a $3 pair of skates – and without any time outs for the Zamboni machine.
“I’m interested to see how it turns out — it’s a plastic covering that acts like ice, but there won’t be any freezing,” said Gary Turchin, a spokesperson for the Children’s Hospital and Research Center, the sponsor of the rink.

Turchin said he will be helping on the corner. “We’re happy to be supporting the business district,” he said. “What’s good for them is what’s good for us.”

Planning for the festivities took place  a week ago at Desa Arts, among the large-scale paintings of Buddhas, hand-made drums and an opium bed frame from Java. Turchin and four other members of the business district board checked off details: The Kitchenettes, a chorus of seven mothers from Redwood Heights, will sing Sunday.   There’s a Saturday parade for people and pets.  The yet-to-be-opened Tapas bar, B44, will be donating electricity. The East Bay Depot for Creative Use will be facilitating arts and crafts for kids.
“I talked to the Mixing Bowl about serving hot chocolate outside,” said Lisa Tana, owner of Desa Arts.

“Lane Splitter Pizza is totally into it and wants to giveaway candy canes,” said Sharon Delap, assistant to the business district’s executive director.

Delap surveyed the heavy three-ring binder, full of the event’s logistics, that was balanced on her knees. While some businesses readily promised to contribute, the 60 businesses she had contacted on the list on her lap had not yet responded or had shown little interest.

“We know the economy is really unstable right now, so we can tell them it’s important to participate,” suggested Julie Stevens, owner of Telegraph’s 17 Jewels Salon Spa.

The recession is something of a concern for the district — members of the business district say certain development plans have been put on hold for the time being — but the challenge of rallying merchants around an event reminded Darlene Rios Drapkin, executive director for the business district, of previous holiday event efforts when the market was healthy. “For the majority of merchants, it’s hard to get them involved — I hear them say, ‘What’s in it for me?'” she said. “This is their chance to be community-driven. What they need to understand is, meeting business owners in person, matters. Like when I meet you, Lisa, and I find out you went to Indonesia to find this,” Drapkin gestured to a chair, “that makes a difference.”

Drapkin was hired on as executive director after business owners between 40 and 66th streets, and portions of Shattuck and Claremont Avenue, voted to establish the business improvement district (often called BID) in 2004. Once a BID is formed, dues collected from the businesses for the district fund services the city of Oakland does not provide, such as certain physical improvements and listing vacancies in the area. In Temescal, the BID helps with the June Temescal Street Fair and a Halloween event, and this summer it helped host a six-week outdoor film series organized by the Temescal Street Collective.

The idea is that neighborhood shopping areas are treated like malls, Drapkin said, meaning commercial districts need to create their own identity — their own branding. In Temescal, the identity is “Hip Happenings,” a term used to describe the markets and various events like the Holiday Skate and Stroll.

“We want people to say, ‘Hey, this is a safe place to come into. People actually care about this place,'” she said. “It’s all part of building the commercial district to pull people here.”

The incorporation of Temescal’s business improvement district followed the examples of Rockridge’s district, founded in 2000; and a year later that of  Fruitvale, where the  annual Dia de Los Muertos festival now attracts nearly 100,000 people each year.

Lisa Tana and her business partner and husband, Made Moja, who is Balinese, came to North Oakland two and a half years after the Temescal Telegraph BID was formed to open their store, Desa Arts. “I was excited about Temescal because it’s up and coming and there are a lot of artists and interesting development plans for the neighborhood,” she recalled. “But it’s challenging.”

According to Tana, visitors to the area come looking for restaurants, not shopping. Crowds from the monthly Oakland stroll, Art Murmur, rarely end up in Temescal, she said, and she was additionally concerned that Oakland had an identity crisis, stemming from “a bad rap” when it came to crime.

If it is successful, Tana said, she sees the Holiday Skate and Stroll as a “pilot project” to build on in years to come. She hopes for a modest beginning, she said, that could become Temescal’s version of an annual Dia de Los Muertos.

“We’re pioneers,” Tana said.  “We’re trying to stay and help the neighborhood grow. We want Temescal to be a destination.”

Temescal’s Holiday Skate and Stroll Schedule
This event is free and open to the public, with the exception of the skate rental fee of $3. For more information about the Temescal Telegraph Business District and their local events, visit

1-5 p.m. – The ice rink will open to the public at 49th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
1-5 p.m. – Meet Santa at 49th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
1- 1:30 p.m. – The St. Elizabeth Elementary School Choir will sing at 49th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
2- 3:30 p.m. – Babes in the Woods, a Celtic singing group, will perform at 49th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
1 p.m. – An arts and crafts booth in front of the East Bay Depot for Creative reuse at 47th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
10:30 a.m. – An arts and crafts booth in front of the East Bay Depot for Creative reuse at 47th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
12:30 p.m. – Parents and kids and pets are invited to be a part of the Holiday parade that begins at Claremont Avenue and Telegraph Avenue, with the brass band, The Toy Soldiers, and a mini electric trolley leading the way.
1-5 p.m. – The ice rink will open to the public at 49th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
1-5 p.m. – Meet Santa at 49th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
2-3:30 p.m. – The Kitchenettes, seven singing moms from Redwood Heights, will perform at 49th Street and Telegraph Avenue.

1 Comment

  1. on May 30, 2009 at 9:22 am

    great information, i will be going on Sunday
    10:30 a.m. – An arts and crafts booth!

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