11th Annual North Richmond Shoreline Festival draws big crowd to diverse parkland

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More than 1,200 people gathered on a sun-splashed Point Pinole for the eleventh annual North Richmond Shoreline Festival Saturday.

Families from Richmond and San Pablo sprawled across an open field or bounced between the activities tents lining the walking path. The hilltop, enclosed by a towering tree line of eucalyptus groves, overlooks the salt marshes and five-and-a-half mile shoreline below.

“We’re celebrating healthy parks and healthy people,” said festival coordinator and lifelong Richmond resident Lana Husser. Many were shuttled to and from San Pablo, North Richmond, Parchester Village and other communities. “We want everyone to have access to this [event], and this beautiful place.”

With live music jamming on stage, kids rode a train, rode ponies, painted on paper, plastered intricate mosaics, chatted with Richmond police officers and firefighters, and plucked free books from the giveaway tables.

Two large trees on either side of the lawn offered enough shade to nap and picnic. Free lunches came courtesy of Latino Fusion Catering. “We ran out of food at 3:30! We will plan for more for next year. We had just apples, bagels and lemonade left at end of the day. But no one complained!” Husser said.

There was also a cluster of environmental exhibits, like the Citizens for East Bay Shoreline, spreading the good word about the burgeoning flora and fauna of under-visited areas like Point Pinole, what San Pablo councilman Rich Kinney called “an awesomely scenic spot of the bay.” The event ended with a dance and aerobic Zumba session, as the late afternoon air started cooling off.

The East Bay Regional Park District is in the throes of a large-scale redevelopment project at Breuner Marsh, just at the base of the Point Pinole shoreline, a 2,300 square-acre parkland that’s home to more than 100 species of birds.

The key goals are to restore the historic wetlands, create public access, and close a mile-and-a-half gap in the San Francisco Bay Trail, said Chris Barton, a senior planner for the park district. So far they’ve removed about 7,000 truckloads of dirt that was smothering the park’s marshlands.

“A lot of people don’t know that this park exists,” Husser said, waving her hand across the vista. But that seems to be changing—despite the heat, this was the festival’s biggest turnout. “The more we reach out to the community, the more people show up, and the more they fall in love with this spot.”

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