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Creating a legacy for tomorrow by cherishing our past and
connecting with our present

Fremont's 50th anniversary - give 'em a hand!

Fremont Argus
by Chris De Benedetti, Staff Writer
July 21, 2006

FREMONT Fremont's 50th anniversary celebration, scheduled for Sept. 9-10, will feature dozens of performances and activities to honor the city's rich history.

But to kick off the two-day party, organizers say they have planned something so unusual, it may become part of Fremont lore for years to come.

"Hands Around the Lake," a human chain of more than 3,000 people holding hands, will encircle Central Park's Lake Elizabeth the morning of the weekend-long celebration's first day.

It promises to be "a dramatic start to the whole event sort of like an opening ceremony," said Fremont Councilmember Anu Natarajan, who also is chair of the Celebrate Fremont Event Committee. "The rest of the two-day event has tons of things happening."

"This would be a great way to start the celebration," said Douglas Tinney, Celebrate Fremont's head of marketing and promotion. Celebrate Fremont is the community-based planning organization spearheading the city's year-round anniversary festivities.

Organizers hope to attract 3,500 volunteers to form a chain covering the 1.8 miles around the lake.

Volunteers may register to participate by downloading a form from the Celebrate Fremont Web site http://www.celebratefremont.org/hands. They may either fax or mail the form with a $5 payment. They also may register online with a credit card, or call the Celebrate Fremont office at (510) 790-9352 to receive a form.

The deadline to register is July 31, but participants should do so as soon as possible, as space is limited, organizers said.

Volunteers taking part in "Hands Around the Lake" will receive an orange T-shirt with a commemorative logo. The T-shirt's color was chosen to fit in with the two-day event's general visual scheme, which Natarajan said was partly inspired by the work of Christo, the artist who draped New York's Central Park in orange fabric last year.

Tinney said that the idea was inspired by "Hands Across America," a 1986 charity event where millions held hands across more than 4,000 miles nationwide, creating a  chain of people between New York City and Long Beach. It raised $20 million to combat hunger.

"Hands Around the Lake" may be smaller in scale, but its goals are no less important.

The sight of more than 3,000 locals standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a city as ethnically diverse as Fremont will provide a powerful symbol of unity, said Tinney, a Fremont resident since 1975.

"Fremont may have 137 languages spoken, with people from 155 countries, but we are a community with one common goal creating a place of peace and security for our families," he said.

Lake Elizabeth and Central Park are the jewels of the community, he added, making them the perfect spots for the anniversary celebration.

"I think it will be a stunning visual to see this continuous ribbon of orange around the lake," said Tinney, a graphic designer who created the city's 50th anniversary logo.

Titled "Celebrate Fremont @ the Park," the weekend celebration will include a wide-ranging combination of music by locally and nationally known performers along with entertainment for all generations, an arts-and-crafts pavilion, various food and drink areas, athletic clinics and much more, Natarajan said.

But residents looking to help start the Fremont celebration in September still have the chance to participate. All they have to do is lend a hand.

"We had a lot of ideas creating visual representations of Fremont coming together, but nothing was as dramatic as 'Hands Around the Lake,'" Natarajan said. "It is about reinforcing our connectedness and embracing our diversity."


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