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The Multicultural Institute honored as 2023 California Nonprofit of the Year

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The Multicultural Institute honored as 2023 California Nonprofit of the Year

The Multicultural Institute (MI) has been selected as a 2023 California Nonprofit of the Year by California State Assemblymember Buffy Wicks of Assembly District 14.

The nonprofit’s Executive Director Mirna Cervantes and Senior Programs Director Rudy Lara attended a luncheon at the State Capitol in Sacramento June 7th, where they were honored with a resolution and met with Assemblymember Wicks to mark the occasion.

The nonprofit—which has offices in Redwood City, Richmond and Berkeley—envisions a community where immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, are valued in their live/work communities, per the statement. To this end, MI provides an array of services including job placement assistance for day laborers and domestic workers, immigration/health support, weekly food distributions, after school tutoring, adult education courses, day laborer housing and more centered on serving immigrant families.

Cervantes said that “The Multicultural Institute’s staff and Board of Directors work daily to improve the lives of day laborers, domestic workers and their families and we are deeply humbled to be recognized by California State Assemblymember Buffy Wicks as a 2023 Nonprofit of the Year.”

Learn more about the organization here.

Photo courtesy of the Multicultural Institute.

Smash Mouth to perform at San Mateo County Fair

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Smash Mouth to perform at San Mateo County Fair

Smash Mouth is set to perform at the San Mateo County Fair at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

The Grammy-nominated, San Jose rock/pop icons are behind multiple hit songs such as “Walkin’ on the Sun” (1997) and “All Star” (1999).

Fans can see them live with the price of admission to the Fair.

The San Mateo County Fair kicked off June 3 and ends this Sunday. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for active military members, seniors 62 and over and youth ages 6-12. Children 5 and under are free. Unlimited rides go for $40. A parking pass is $15.

For more information about the Fair, go here.

Photo courtesy of the Smash Mouth Facebook page. For more information on the band, visit its website here.

Summer events abound in Downtown Redwood City

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Summer events abound in Downtown Redwood City

Downtown Redwood City is inviting the community to a summer packed with fun events, including movies under the stars, live music, art exhibitions and family-friendly activities. All are free.

Here’s what’s in store:

MOVIES ON THE SQUARE Bring your blankets and snacks because Movies on the Square is making its grand return to Courthouse Square. Head downtown every Thursday from June 9 to September 8 for a captivating double feature of cinematic delights. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with family-friendly movies, followed by a showcase of independent short films from the Bravemaker Film Festival at 8:00 p.m., and finally, an exhilarating feature film at 8:30 p.m. Tables and chairs are limited, so be sure to arrive early to secure the best seats. Here’s the lineup for June:

  • June 8: Paddington 2 (6:00 p.m.) & Thor: Love and Thunder (8:30 p.m.)
  • June 15: Bravemaker Independent Film (8:00 p.m.) & Creed III (8:30 p.m.)
  • June 22: Turning Red (6:00 p.m.) & Sleepless in Seattle (8:30 p.m.)
  • June 29: Bravemaker Independent Film (8:00 p.m.) & Top Gun: Maverick (8:30 p.m.)

MUSIC ON THE SQUARE Immerse yourself in live music every Friday evening at the Courthouse Square. From June 2 to September 1, experience an incredible lineup of free concerts featuring top-quality local and national musical performers. This year, Music on the Square is celebrating its 17th season, and it promises to be better than ever. Join us from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and let the music transport you to a world of pure enjoyment. Check out the upcoming performances:

  • June 2: Neon Velvet (Modern Rock Dance Party)
  • June 9: Carnaval (Santana Tribute)
  • June 16: LJ Bryant & the Lost Art (Soul & Funk)
  • June 23: Groove Ride (Dance Favorites)

ART ON THE SQUARE Indulge your artistic side at ART on the Square from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on four summer Fridays: June 9, July 14, July 28, and August 25. Explore the vibrant local art scene as you stroll through a mesmerizing array of unique and captivating artwork on Hamilton Ave at Courthouse Square in downtown Redwood City. Discover distinctive jewelry, photography, glasswork, fiber art, ceramics, paintings, and more, all while enjoying live music from the nearby Music on the Square stage.

CLASSICAL ON THE SQUARE Treat yourself and your family to an evening of classical, instrumental, and opera music as the Redwood Symphony takes to the stage on Saturday, June 24, at 7 p.m. in Courthouse Square. Led by the talented conductor Eric K, this exhilarating concert promises to enchant music lovers of all ages. Experience the rich and timeless melodies performed by the members of Redwood Symphony, creating a truly memorable musical journey. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to introduce your family, including children, to the magic of symphonic music!

While enjoying these events, visitors can also visit locally-owned restaurantscafes and bistros. A full list of businesses can be found here.

Photos courtesy of the City of Redwood City.

Peninsula history: The night the ceiling fell

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Peninsula history: The night the ceiling fell

In 1950, the balcony ceiling collapsed at the Sequoia Theatre in Redwood City, injuring 27 people. After a long hiatus, the building reopened with a new interior and a new name – the Fox.

Without warning, at 11:30 p.m. on June 21, plaster fell on patrons watching The Gunfighter, a western starring Gregory Peck. The most seriously injured was a woman named Evelin Case, who suffered a skull fracture when she either jumped or fell to the main floor, according to a 2005 article in the Archives News, published by the history room at the Redwood City Library. Most of the injuries were minor wounds to the head, chest, back, arms or legs. Case was released from the hospital after a two-day stay. Fourteen lawsuits were filed, but only four were awarded judgments. The others were dismissed.

Investigators concluded that nails, which were about an inch short of what they should have been, were loosened by vibrations of trains that had passed nearby for decades. The cave-in closed the theater for three months.

Adding a touch of irony, the Sequoia was famous for the starry night experience it offered the audience. A machine projected moving clouds and twinkling skies across the ceiling, giving customers the feeling that stars were gazing down on them. That part of the ceiling was covered up during the restoration; to see what little is left, it is necessary to climb ladders and walk across catwalks.

The 1929 opening of the Sequoia, which replaced the original and much smaller Sequoia cinema located nearby, was big news. The Redwood City Tribune reported every detail, including a 10-paragraph story on the show house organ alone. Patrons imagine “they are in a street in a town somewhere in Spain,” the paper said in reporting on the 1,200-seat theater’s Moorish interior.

The walls consisted of a series of archways that indeed resembled a courtyard in old Spain. An estimated 3,000 people attended the debut on January 5 to see “Three Week-Ends,” starring Clara Bow. The theater also had a stage and dressing rooms for vaudeville acts. In addition to viewing the movie, the opening night throng was entertained by a band as well as dancers.

The opening was “a big event in town,” Louie Dematteis, an usher who went on to become San Mateo County District Attorney, recalled in an interview in the 1990s. “They had searchlights. It was like a night at the opera in San Francisco.” He added that some of the vaudeville acts were “terrible.”

Reopening Night

The reopening on September 15, 1950, came after extensive remodeling by designer Carl Moeller, whose style was described as “Art Moderne meets Streamlined.” The marquee, terrazzo tile in the foyer, a mirrored entrance and ornate gold leaf combined to form a near-classic example of 1950s Art Deco. Even though Moeller covered up or replaced much of the interior, the lobby, with arches that line the walls, still has the feel of the original.

More than 2,000 people turned out to see the renovated theater, which was described as “completely remodeled and shining from a giant-sized portion of gold paint.” The film offering was “My Blue Heaven,” starring Betty Grable. There was plenty of entertainment outside, a warmup for the first showing since the ceiling had come down. Crowds began gathering in front of the Fox more than an hour before the outdoor festivities. Temporary bleachers were packed as the throng watched dancers, heard singers and was introduced to visiting celebrities. The big names included actors George Jessel, Howard Keel and Roddy McDowell.

The show was a benefit for the Korean War effort, and customers had to buy a bond to get in. Patrons entered under a marquee that assured them “Movies are Better Than Ever,” a slogan Hollywood hoped would wean viewers off the new medium of television.

The advent of TV wasn’t the only reason the original Sequoia was a tough act to follow. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1948 led to the breakup of big movie house chains. Many movie palaces built in the same era went under, but the Fox survived.

Why? There’s probably no one reason, but in 1995 a survey found that 96 percent of those interviewed felt the Fox should become a “social and cultural hub.” Today it anchors one end of Courthouse Square, known to many as “Redwood City’s living room.” Maybe movies and television can coexist after all.

Multiple remembrances planned for victims of Half Moon Bay mass shooting

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Marciano Martinez Jimenez

A candelight vigil at Mac Dutra Plaza on Main Street in Half Moon Bay on Friday is among several events planned in the coming days to remember the victims killed in a mass shooting at local farms.

The vigil will start at 5 p.m. and will include song and prayer, according to the City of Half Moon Bay.

Then on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 4 p.m., a memorial service will be held at the Boys & Girls Club Event Center at 530 Kelly Ave. The service will include prayer and healing words from interfaith leaders. Immediately after the memorial service, a candlelight processional walk will occur down Kelly Avenue, past the Mac Dutra Plaza memorial, and down Main Street to the I.D.E.S. Hall, 735 Main St. according to the city.

At 6 p.m. at I.D.E.S Hall, a community gathering for dinner and fellowship will be held. Those who would like to join the gathering are encouraged to register here.

Julio Escobar from the Archdiocese of San Francisco – Restorative Justice Ministry helped plan and organize the events for the victims and families in partnership with the city, county, Coastside Interfaith Community, Chamber of Commerce, and other community-based organizations.

“The Coastside continues to rally together through tough and tragic events, and it is a testament to why so many of us call this place home, choose to work here, or visit often,” the city said. “We know the community has been looking for opportunities to come together and grieve the seven lives lost and others that have been directly affected.”

Seven people were fatally shot and another person injured at shootings at Mountain Mushroom Farm and Concord Farms Monday afternoon. The lone suspect, Chunli Zhao, 66, of Half Moon Bay, was arrested shortly thereafter at a Half Moon Bay police substation.

According to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, Zhao was angry at several co-workers over perceived mistreatment and used a ruger semi-automatic handgun to fatally shoot five men and two women. The eighth person injured in the shooting was the brother of one of the killed victims, according to prosecutors.

Six of the seven victims have been identified while authorities await notification on the next of kin for the seventh victim. The identified victims include Yetao Bing, 43, whose residence was unknown, Qizhong Cheng, 66, of Half Moon Bay, Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50 (pictured), of Moss Beach, Jingzhi Lu, 64, of Half Moon Bay, Zhishen Liu, 73, of San Francisco, and Aixiang Zhang, 74, of San Francisco.

Several GoFundMe fundraisers have been set up for the victims, including here, and here. Another GoFundMe was set up by a brother of Jimenez, described as an honorable, hard-working man who had lived in the Half Moon Bay community for 25 years. Jimenez worked at Concord Farms and was a longtime volunteer for RotaCare Clinic in Half Moon Bay. The fundraiser aims to support funeral costs, including transporting Jimenez to their hometown in Oaxaca, Mexico.

On Wednesday, Zhao was appointed an attorney during his initial felony arraignment. The case was continued to Feb. 16 for further arraignment and entry of pleas.

New mural on Jefferson Avenue brings people together

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The New Mural on Jefferson Avenue brings people together

Sitting next to the Box Building and adjacent to the Sequoia Station shopping center, the piece covers approximately 4,700 square feet on the wall beneath the Jefferson Avenue underpass. The artwork by Oakland painter Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith is billed as an “equity mural,” designed to show Redwood City’s commitment to social justice.

Wolfe-Goldsmith wrote on the website of the city’s Parks, Recreation & Community Services Department that she wanted to “tell an honest recount of history” to share “our hopes and dreams for the future.” The artist added that she wanted to illustrate “historical travesties alongside accomplishments.”

For example, the mural sums up World War II by picturing “Rosie the Riveter,” a popular illustrated character who symbolized U.S. women who worked in military factories. It also depicts the internment of people of Japanese ancestry, along with a segment showing the chrysanthemum fields Japanese Americans cultivated in Redwood City before being forced from their homes. Their success as flower growers in the first half of the 20th Century gained Redwood City the nickname of “the chrysanthemum capital of the world.”

The dedication was held in front of City Hall, just feet away from a monument that lists the names of Redwood City residents killed in World War II.

Art Commissioner Ashley Quintana says she hopes the mural will enhance Redwood City’s sense of shared heritage.

“I’m a strong believer that art brings people together, and that’s exactly what this mural does,” Quintana says.

This story first appeared in the January edition of Climate Magazine

San Mateo mayor’s flood relief fundraiser raises nearly $50K in three days

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San Mateo mayor launches flood relief fundraiser; raises $50K in three days

San Mateo Mayor Amourence Lee launched a fundraiser for flood victims in her city that raised nearly $50,000 in three days.

Lee announced the GoFundMe fundraiser on Saturday, saying she raised $20,000 in pledges from friends and companies and aimed to raise $25,000 in total. But generosity from the community has poured in via both business and individual donations.

Bohannon Northwood Joint Venture, California Water Service and Windy Hill Property Ventures donated $10,000 apiece, while Lane Partners and Prometheus chipped in $5,000 apiece.

Mayor Lee said she plans to ask City Council to support an emergency meeting to discuss a city funding allocation for flood victims. Those funds would likely be distributed to victims through a third-party partner, she noted.

The mayor’s efforts aim to provide swift relief to residents in need.

“We cannot wait for FEMA or the state, we need to step up when we see our neighbors and our local businesses in need,” Mayor Lee said.

Interested in making a donation? Find the GoFundMe page here.

Top Photo: City of San Mateo Public Works responding the recent storm (photo courtesy of the city).


Redwood City-SMC Holiday Toy and Book Program begins deliveries to 800 families

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Redwood City-SMC Holiday Toy and Book Program begins deliveries to 800 families

After community volunteers wrapped roughly 4,000 presents at Red Morton Park in Redwood City on Monday, first responders set off Wednesday night to begin delivering them to the homes of local children in need, part of a heartwarming annual tradition that will serve 800 families this year.

Santa Claus rides along in a police car or fire engine to personally deliver presents to local families. Deliveries for the 2022 Redwood City-San Mateo County Holiday Toy and Book Program are ongoing, with organizers saying the program was off to a great start.

You’re making a difference in this community, one kid at a time, one household at a time.

The Holiday Toy and Book Program is held by the Redwood City Police and Fire Department, Police Activities League, and Parks Recreation and Community Services, in collaboration with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Activities League, San Carlos Fire Department, Woodside Fire Department, California Highway Patrol, Redwood City 330 Squad Club, and the CARON Project.

Last year, more than 40 local businesses filled 67 donation barrels with toys that were provided to over 800 families needing assistance.

Families receiving donations this year were asked to register in November.

During a briefing ahead of the first delivery night, Redwood City Police Chief Dan Mulholland thanked volunteers for taking time from their busy schedules to make the massive charity effort possible.

“It was pretty awesome to go the Red Morton Center and see all the presents that were out there that needed to be wrapped,” Chief Mulholland said. “Great feeling. You’re making a difference in this community, one kid at a time, one household at a time.”

All photos courtesy of the Holiday Toy and Book Program.

Couple killed in Redwood City crash leaves behind twin 7-year-old daughters

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Parents of 7-year-old twin girls die in Redwood City crash

The Redwood City community is in mourning following the deaths of Grace and Greg Ammen in a car crash Friday night. The Ammens leave behind their 7-year-old twin daughters, Madison and Olivia.

The collision occurred just before 8 p.m. in the area of El Camino Real and Finger Avenue, according to the Redwood City Police Department. Officers arrived to find two vehicles on the west sidewalk with major damages, one of them engulfed in flames.

Officers used fire extinguishers to put out the fire. A 17-year-old driver and two passengers were located in that car with non-life-threatening injuries. The Ammens were found trapped in the other vehicle and were later confirmed deceased.

A cause for the crash hasn’t been revealed and the investigation is ongoing, according to Redwood City Police Chief Dan Mulholland, who added that “more information will be released as soon as it is available.”

“There are no words to express the magnitude of this loss,” the chief said. “We are all mourning this tragedy together.”

Mayor Giselle Hale called the event tragic for all involved.

“On behalf of the Redwood City Ciy Council, we extend our deepest sympathies to the two young children who tragically lost their parents,” Mayor Hale said. “Grief and stress counseling have been made available to students and families, and to first responders who provided emergency assistance at the scene.”

A GoFundMe described the couple as “two beautiful souls.” The fundraiser aims to support the raising of their children.

“Grace and Greg were outstanding people and lights of love, support and inspiration to countless friends, family, co-workers and their community,” Liza Spiridon stated in the GoFundMe, adding, “Nothing mattered more to them than Madison and Olivia.”

To support the GoFundMe, go here.

Anyone with further information about this collision is encouraged to call the Redwood City Police Department’s Investigations Unit at (650) 780-7111.

Photo via GoFundMe

Rare falcons make a home at Box

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Rare Falcons Make a Home at Box

A pair of Peregrine falcons have nested high up on the front of the Box building in downtown Redwood City.

Popular in the sport of falconry, the Peregrine is a small, fast flier that can reach speeds of over 200 mph while diving for prey. On the rebound from being endangered due to pesticide poisoning, the Peregrine tends to nest in the wild high in cliffs but sometimes find tall buildings in urban settings to their liking do to the abundant presence of pigeons and ducks.

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