With the flick of a switch Wednesday night, Macdonald Avenue transformed into a downtown vision that many in the city have long wanted to see.
“I always dreamed of having lights on Macdonald,” Finance Director James Goins said, standing at the corner of Macdonald and 11th.
The East Bay Performing Arts Center and Richmond Main Street Initiative collaborated this year to host the annual Downtown Holiday Festival.
This was the first time the newly renovated arts center held the event, which has moved around to different locations over the last several years. Organizers from RMSI said the center was “the perfect partner” because it provided in-house entertainment.
Amanda Elliott, executive director of the Richmond Main Street Initiative, said about 500 people attended the event, which featured a photo opportunity with Santa Claus and performances from the center’s groups.
Elliott said she heard someone say the lights and the line out the door reminded them of Macy’s in downtown San Francisco. “So we’re on the right track,” Elliot said.
Elva Santos brought her four children to visit Santa and said now that she knows the center is open for public use, she’s thinking about enrolling the children in its classes.
“This was really wonderful,” she said.
It was “helping everyone know this is a safe place for families,” Elliot said.
After taking pictures with Santa, children received free gifts, which came from donations from Elliott as well as others.
City Manager Bill Lindsay introduced the street lighting ceremony and said the lights make a difference in the neighborhood.
“It feels like the right season to say downtown Richmond is snowballing and getting bigger and bigger,” Lindsay said.