Follow the Easter Bunny Down Lakeshore this Saturday!

The 24th Annual Lakeshore Easter Parade & Derby Decorating Contest and the 3rd Annual Lakeshore Baptist Church Spring Children’s Fair
When: April 23rd at the Church- 10 AM last minute decorating,
Where: Parade starts at 11 AM at the Church, 3534 Lakeshore, continuing down the Avenue where the hats will be judged.
How: Buy plastic derbies for decorating at shops where they are displayed in the window. Children may use recycled household items to decorate a theme or any style you like.
What: Easter basket prizes from Lakeshore merchants will be awarded for best hats in age categories.
Then: Stay at the Church for Easter egg decorating, snacks, and fun!

The Lakeshore Avenue shopping district has been a favorite Oakland gathering spot for decades. I moved into the neighborhood around 1988 when I rented a house four doors down from the one I presently own. After living in the Glenview, Dimond, and San Antonio neighborhoods and experiencing the crack epidemic while living next to San Antonio Park, this area was quite a change for my family.

Somehow, my kids and I missed attending the annual Easter and Halloween parades (they were a little too old) although my children will never forget shopping at the old Lakeshore Variety Store when Hunter McCreary’s shop was the center of the Avenue. Halloween was huge there.

The windows would be full of fun and gory goods, like battery operated beating “hearts”, masks depicting the current president and other ghouls, and the usual devils and French maids. There really were a few things you could buy with a dime. Remember when we used to call them “five and dimes”?

Hunter would stand outside and regale passers-by with funny anecdotes and comment on the changes your kids were growing through. That store went through lots of changes too after Hunter retired, including housing an exotic bird shop full of squawking parrots.

Where did the inimitable Mr. McCreary go? Not far. He comes back to Lakeshore every year and joins Carla Betts, of the Betts Chevron stations, and local activist Arvi Dorsey to judge the “Derby Decorating Contest and Children’s Parade” that is in its 24th year. Mrs. Betts has been performing this gig with Mr. McCreary for more years than she would like to say while Mr. Dorsey is a more recent addition to the distinguished panel.

Lakeshore has gone through many changes since the long ago days of the first Halloween and Easter Parades. For one, what do we call these events since many parents whose children attend come from multiple religious and cultural backgrounds?

Rachel at Silver Lining Jewlery prepares the prize baskets. Thanks Rachel!

We have combined the tags associated with this time of year so that it is still the Easter Derby-another anachronism, a derby is a round-topped hat-Decorating Contest and Parade, but we call the fun event afterwards the Spring Festival. The kids’ fair that is held after the parade at the Lakeshore Baptist Church but is non-denominational. The folks at the church put that on for the children of Oakland, because they enjoy providing a fun family experience.

Bunny girl.

We could delve into the topic of how the strange customs of Easter got started- most of them seem to be carry-overs from the earth-loving pagan cultures of Europe, but maybe that’s a subject better left to a History Channel special. If you want to hear a hilarious rendering of how the American version of all these strange rites look to modern Europeans, get a copy of “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris and read it aloud to family and friends.

Kids in their decorated derbies.

Back to Lakeshore-we went from a sort of preppy street where an older generation of Piedmont families might shop to a much more international and multi-generational mix of boutiques, restaurants, pizzerias, and even a successful club or two. With the addition of Cana and the new version of KwikWay (another more upscale burger joint, the Flipside will also open soon), great Cuban food will join California-cuisine style comfort food and Cuban music. What a mix!

Chandeliers at Canas takeout store

Come on down this Saturday, April 23rd, starting around 10 AM, parade at 11, grab a neighborhood kid (prizes are awarded to kids in their age categories from toddler to 12), pick up a hat by Friday from a merchant displaying the colorful derbies in store windows, or find one at the church and do some last minute decorating to win a basket full of Lakeshore goodies or-just enjoy watching the children of Oakland enjoying themselves. The hats are $2 but the parade and fair are free!

See for more info or join Lakeshore’s fan page on Facebook-the Lakeshore Business Improvement District-we need more fans to make our page official. You can email me, the Director of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District which sponsors the parade-

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