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Japanese Garden's 50th Anniversary
Community, Parks and Recreation

The Japanese Garden’s 50th Anniversary

For years San Mateo residents have loved the Japanese Garden in Central Park for its serenity and beautiful nature. Next month marks the Japanese Garden’s 50th Anniversary and the City of San Mateo 50th Anniversaryrecognizes the Garden’s significance to not only the landscape but also to the community. Throughout the month of August there are multiple events to commemorate the beautiful garden. Check out the City’s website for more information.

One of the finest gardens in California, San Mateo’s Japanese Garden was designed by the same landscape architect who designed the Zen Garden in the Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden: Nagao Sakurai of the Imperial Palace of Tokyo. Sakurai beautifully incorporated beautiful cherry trees, Japanese maples, Bonsai, and more to create a tranquil landscape perfect for taking a walk, meditating, or simply enjoying nature.

One great feature is the kidney shaped koi pond full of fish splashing around. There is a bridge crossing over the pond for you to soak up the calm atmosphere while standing over the fish. While walking through the garden you’ll find your eye drawn to many different aspects you may not have seen previously, like the granite pagoda. There are many other features to marvel over in the garden, including a tea house and bamboo grove.

History of the Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden came to fruition through efforts to rectify racial tensions with Japanese Americans after World War II. Over the 20 years or so from the end of WWII to the groundbreaking of the Garden, the San Mateo community underwent a healing process culminating in 1963.

“Sister City” Relationship Established

San Mateo’s mayor of the time, Roy Archibald, proposed a sister city relationship to Mayor Tasuku Fujito of Toyonaka, Japan. “Sister cities” is a concept that was proposed by President Eisenhower in 1956. The purpose of these sister cities is to promote “citizen diplomacy” around the world by linking U.S. cities to cities in other countries. San Mateo established its sister city relationship with Toyonaka in 1963. Gifts were exchanged between San CENTRAL PARK21 resizedMateo and Toyonaka; the El Camino bell now sits near the entrance of the Toyonaka City Hall, and a few years later, Toyonaka contributed the granite pagoda to the San Mateo Japanese Garden.

Momentum for the Garden Blossoms

Following the sister city development, another community project began in San Mateo: the Japanese Garden. The San Mateo Gardeners’ Association had proposed to maintain and landscape the garden in a public location sometime in the 1950s, but until the sister city relationship was put into place, a location had not been chosen. This sister city relationship with Toyonaka led to the suggestion of a one-acre site in Central Park. This suggestion was taken and that is where the Japanese Garden is today.

To make the garden as successful as possible, a Japanese Garden Koen-Kai (support group) club was organized. This club selected Nagao Sakurai to design the grounds and raised money for its completion. Start-up funds were also granted by the City. The Garden was started on October 22, 1965, and many organizations – both companies and individuals – donated money, materials, and volunteered DSCN1109 resizedlabor to make sure the Garden was finished. The Gardeners’ Association, for example, donated 6,000 man-hours for the completion of the Garden. It was at this time that Toyonaka contributed the pagoda.

A Significant Community Landmark Established

With a dedication ceremony at Central Park, the Garden was officially completed in August of 1966. There was a banquet following the ceremony at the Villa Hotel and the Mayor of Toyonaka sat at this banquet as guest of honor. The Japanese Garden has maintained it’s beauty and is a gem located in the heart of our community.

San Mateo is proud to boast such a beautiful and serene garden amid the hustle and bustle of urban downtown. It’s significant history and success is something the City is proud of. Be sure to come to one of the many events happening in August to commemorate the hard work that previous San Mateo residents put into making the Garden as successful as it is. And if you can’t make one of the events, make time to take a stroll through and ponder the considerable history the Garden holds!

The Japanese Garden is open from 10:00am – 4:00pm, Monday – Friday and 11:00am-4:00pm on the weekends. The Garden will be open for extended evening hours from 5:00pm to 7:00pm on Thursdays through August 25th. There are public koi feedings at 11:00am and 3:00pm, Monday – Friday during the spring and summer. No dogs are allowed in the Japanese Garden.

Community, Parks and Recreation

Play Area to Re-Open in Beresford Park

The play area at Beresford Park, one of the major community parks in San Mateo and a favorite of residents, has been given a facelift. The grand opening of the renovated play area will be at noon this Saturday, July 23. Be sure to stop by and give the new play area some use!

Having been constructed in 1987, the park’s playground and surrounding area was due for a major renovation that updated the playground and better met many of today’s safety and accessibility standards. The Parks and Recreation department began an extensive multi-year design review process involving the community and the Park and Recreation Commission to update the play area and make it a great place for children again.

Designs for the new play area created with help from elementary school students.

“This involved public outreach and feedback through online engagement starting in October 2013,” said Valerie Vijil, an Administrative Technician in the Parks and Recreation department. “The following spring, we worked with children from Beresford Elementary School who provided information as to what they would like to see in the new playground.” With that information from the elementary school students, the department developed construction documents, and the project was put out to bid in June 2015. The construction then began in September 2015, and should be completed by July 23, 2016.

San Mateo residents are excited for the re-opening. “Many families are anxiously awaiting the grand re-opening of the playground. The children have greatly missed gong to Beresford playground and are eager to try out the new play equipment and see the new layout,” Vijil said.

Designs for the new play area created with help from elementary school students

The playground wasn’t the only thing being renovated during this process. The project also focused on upgrading the adjacent picnic areas, surrounding pathways, storm drains, park lighting, site furniture, and landscaping. Brand new adult fitness equipment has also been installed in Beresford Park.

To make these upgrades special, the San Mateo City Parks and Recreation Foundation, in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation staff, coordinated a commemorative brick and play amenity campaign to help raise additional money for the play area renovation. Phase one of the brick and play amenity campaign is over, but it’s not too late to donate now that the park is open. The phase one bricks will be unveiled at the grand re-opening ceremony on July 23, but if anyone missed the deadline and would still like a brick at the new and improved playground, there will be a second installation later in the year.

The new Beresford Park playground and surrounding areas have been carefully planned and executed to make sure all San Mateo residents enjoy it to the fullest. Be sure to head over to the park around noon on Saturday to see what many people have been working hard to make perfect for you and your kids!

Swim Season in San Mateo
Community, Parks and Recreation

Swim Season in San Mateo

Summertime and swimming pools are almost synonymous in America, and it’s swim season in San Mateo! There’s just nothing quite like hanging out at your community pool with some friends and family, snacking and soaking up some sun. San Mateo offers two great options when it comes to swimming pools: Joinville Swim Center and the King Swim Center. Each of these swim centers offers a sense of relaxation, as well as swim lessons and activities.

Swimming is a great exercise for people of all ages. Through swimming, you will:

  • build endurance,
  • increase muscle strength,
  • create a great cardio-vascular fitness routine, and
  • exercise with very little strain on your joints!

It’s also a great way to keep cool on those days when it’s a little bit too hot for comfort! If you don’t particularly like swimming, sitting by the pool is always a great option to catch up on some reading or to watch the kids splash around.

Swimming Safety Tips

Before going out to swim, be sure to keep these safety tips from the Red Cross in mind:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Maintain constant supervision.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
  • Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.

Joinville Swim Center

2111 Kehoe Avenue
(650) 522-7460

Swim Season in San MateoThe Joinville Swim Center is open for the summer season and offers lap swim for adults, adult beginner swim lessons, youth swim lessons, recreational swimming, birthday parties and pool rentals. Its amenities include:

  • 2 swimming pools – a larger, 6-lane pool 4 ½ feet to 6 feet deep and a smaller shallow water training pool 2 feet to 3 ½ feet deep.
  • Handicapped stairs and lift.
  • Locker rooms and showers with handicapped accessible shower and bathrooms.
  • Lawn and deck space as well as a patio with tables and chairs.

King Swim Center

725 Monte Diablo
(650) 522-7465

The King Swim Center is open for the summer season and offers youth swim lessons, recreational swimming and pool rentals. Its amenities include:

  • 2 swimming pools:
    • 5 lane 25 yard pool 3 feet to 9 feet deep
    • 20 foot by 16 foot training pool from 1 ½ to 3 ½ feet deep.
  • Locker rooms and showers
  • Spacious deck area with tables and chairs.
  • A convenient children’s playground located in the park, just outside of the pool.

Swim Lessons and MoreSwim Season in San Mateo

For more information about the San Mateo aquatic centers beyond this article, be sure to check out the 2016 Youth & Family Summer Aquatics Guide. This guide provides a comprehensive schedule and details for all of the different kinds and levels of swimming lessons provided throughout San Mateo this summer. We recommend printing this out and keeping it in a safe place — it has a lot of great information on it!

Have Fun and Swim Safe!

Enjoy all of these great options San Mateo offers this summer. Click here for a great interactive map. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Community, Community Development, Parks and Recreation

Last Chance to Buy a Brick Along the Beresford Path

This is your LAST CHANCE to Buy-a-Brick along the new Beresford Path, and have your dedication unveiled at the Grand Re-Opening Celebration this Summer 2016! If you or anyone you know were considering donating a brick, NOW is the time to do so.

>> Click to Order Your Beresford Brick Online <<

brick pathway_beresford

Click to Buy-a-Brick Online! Deadline is Mon, May 23 at 12noon.

The 23-year-old playground at Beresford Park has served our community well, but needed a renovation. The City of San Mateo and the San Mateo City Parks and Recreation Foundation are currently under construction at Beresford Park (slated to re-open in mid-July 2016). Improvements include renovating the playground, surrounding pathways and landscaping.

You can donate to this cause, as well as purchase a Pathway Brick for $250. These paver bricks are 12-inches x 6-inches and you’re allowed 3 lines of 23 characters per line (including spaces and punctuation).

The deadline to submit your donation and dedication is Monday, May 23rd, at 12:00 noon.

>> Donate Today! <<

Beresford Park Slated to Re-Open July 2016

Landscape architect's rendition of plans for Beresford Park

Landscape architect’s rendition of plans for Beresford Park

Construction on the new playground area began in September 2015 and is slated to re-open in mid-July 2016.

The playground renovation will include many fun new attractions for children including tower slides, net bridges, climbing walls, pendulum swings, a crawl tunnel, spinners, monkey bars and more. Landscape improvements include a commemorative brick walkway thanks to donors who supported the playground renovation.

As of April 1st, the underground storm drains and pipes have been installed. The concrete curbs, pathways, rock work and landscaping are complete and the adult fitness equipment has been put in place.

We await the arrival of the engraved commemorative bricks, benches and play equipment in the upcoming weeks and will work as swiftly as possible to re-open this much loved community park.

Community, Parks and Recreation

New Street Trees Improve San Mateo Neighborhoods

The city’s annual street tree planting program improves San Mateo’s quality of life and contributes to the greening of our community.

Tree lined streets improve quality of life and create healthier communities.

Tree lined streets improve quality of life and create healthier communities.

Urban trees provide fresh air, cooling shade, increased property values, and many other social and environmental benefits. San Mateo’s urban forest consists of over 22,000 trees in city parks and along neighborhood streets. This year, San Mateo’s Parks and Recreation Department will plant an additional 600 street trees along city streets, increasing San Mateo’s tree population by 2.7%.

“Tree planting is an investment in San Mateo’s quality of life, as trees are the only public infrastructure that increases in value over time,” says City Arborist, Matthew Fried. “This year, we were able to plant trees in areas previously covered by pavement. In total 3,200 square feet of concrete was removed and replaced with young trees. This is a stunning transformation for several San Mateo neighborhoods.”

San Mateo’s planting spree began last November and will continue through the end of April. The majority of the trees planted are in the Central, North Central, and Hayward Park Neighborhoods. The most common species of new street trees include 97 Chinese Pistache, 77 Frontier Elm, 49 Emerald Sunshine Elm, 53 Ginkgo (the fruitless variety!), 29 London Plane, and 27 Tupelo trees.

Benefits of Planting Street Trees

The diversity of San Mateo’s urban forest creates a unique landscape and provides many benefits throughout our community. The tree canopy is a natural air conditioner. It shades asphalt and other man-made materials, cools the air and assists in reducing erosion. Planting young trees ensures that the urban forest has a constant cycle of new growth as mature trees eventually succumb to disease, drought, or old age.

Tree lined streets in Downtown San Mateo create a pleasant walking environment.

Tree lined streets in Downtown San Mateo create a pleasant walking environment.

Community members were actively involved in the tree planting and assisted in identifying areas where trees would provide the greatest impact. One resident, living along the 100 block of 15th Avenue, has worked for several years to transform his street, which was almost entirely paved. In this area, concrete was removed and in its place, 30 trees were planted. The result is a neighborhood that is more walkable, safer, and aesthetically appealing.

“A tree lined street is something that I have envisioned for several years,” says Dominick De Bellis, property owner and community organizer along 15th Avenue. “Collaborating with City Arborist, Matthew Fried helped to realize this vision. Over the course of several months, we developed a plan to plant trees along my block. The city’s street tree program is an incredible benefit to the San Mateo community.”

Funding and Caring for the Investment of Street Trees

San Mateo’s Parks and Recreation Department manages the street tree planting program. Trees are planted annually with funding provided through development fees. Trees are an investment in the community. During the warmer months, the city will water trees periodically to ensure survival. The community though is encouraged to participate in the care of the trees and is invited to help with the watering. Watering instructions are posted on each new tree, and a door hanger with additional care information is left at the time of planting.

For more information about the city’s street tree services and additional resources to care for trees, please visit the city’s website.

"A Wish for Wings" logo of a penguin
Community, Community Events, Parks and Recreation

Holiday Festival of Dance

San Mateo’s original holiday tradition!

Performing in the Holiday Festival of Dance is a time honored tradition in San Mateo. Parents, who are now grand-parents, watched their kids perform, who are now grown and have kids of their own to watch in this long standing community production.

The Holiday Festival of Dance, now in its 43rd year, is a celebration of theatre, dance, and community. It is sponsored by the San Mateo Parks & Recreation Department and the San Mateo Dance Association, and is the culmination of those participating in the City’s dance program.

Child dancers in the Holiday Festival of DanceThis year’s production “A Wish for Wings” will enchant viewers of all ages. It brings together favorite characters including the magical snow queen, frolicking penguins, dancing reindeer, and the arrival of everyone’s favorite elf.  More than 500 dancers, of all ages, styles and caliber, will take to the stage to amaze and entertain.

This holiday celebration takes place in the San Mateo High School gymnasium where the room is turned into a magical holiday wonderland.

The doors open at 4:30pm and the show begins at 5:00pm. Shows run approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes in length.  Tickets are on sale now at the Beresford Recreation Center, be sure to get yours before the shows sell out! Tickets are $12 in advance and $13 at the door. Admission for children under 12 years of age is free.

Volunteers are welcome to help in organizing this exciting holiday extravaganza. For more information about volunteer opportunities and ways you can help, please call 650-522-7444 or 650-522-7448.

Bring your family and friends to this annual tradition and enjoy an enchanting evening of dance and magic.

Black Friday line, shoppers, and employees
25th Avenue, Downtown, Parks and Recreation

Black Friday Options

To Shop or Not

After Thanksgiving, the holiday shopping frenzy begins! We all know this day too well and it is Black Friday. Some get a rush out of scoring deals on holiday gifts while others prefer to find their own little treat, and some would rather avoid the crowds and spend the day relaxing with family and friends. Whichever you prefer, San Mateo has some great options for you.

Get your Shop On

Hillsdale Shopping Center is a central San Mateo shopping venue with many options in one convenient location. The shopping center is home to four mega stores, including Nordstrom, Sears, Macy’s, and Forever 21, and 120 specialty shops and restaurants where you will be sure to find the perfect gift.Woman holding a sale sign

If the mall isn’t for you 25th Avenue is a wonderful alternative. Take a stroll and wander through the charming shops to find the ideal gift for that special someone this holiday season. When you’re done shopping, grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants offering tasty creations.

The hustle and bustle of downtown provides a charming atmosphere that will put you in the holiday spirit. Its specialty shops, restaurants and entertainment options provide a quintessential experience to find unique gifts, sample local cuisine and have some fun along the way.

Rest and Relaxation

San Mateo Central ParkIf shopping on Black Friday is not for you, take it easy and visit one of San Mateo’s fabulous parks. San Mateo is home to 35 parks and recreation centers each offering  special features such as the Japanese Tea Garden, dog parks, walking trails, playgrounds for children, and much more! The parks are a great way to spend time outside – playing, relaxing and exercising after yesterday’s feast.

Don’t forget, San Mateo also has an ice rink in Central Park this winter season! San Mateo on Ice is open daily with 9,000 square feet of real ice for recreational skating. Enjoy the day with your family and check out this cool winter attraction.

Whether you decide to go shopping or spend the day outdoors, San Mateo is certainly the place to do it. You’ll find gifts for everyone on your list at local shopping districts and will take in plenty of fresh air while playing in neighborhood parks. Whichever you choose it is bound to be a great day in San Mateo.

Tree Lighting San Mateo
Community Events, Downtown, Parks and Recreation

San Mateo Tree Lighting & Opening Ceremony

San Mateo on Ice comes to Central Park

Earlier this week we told you about the exciting event for the opening of San Mateo on Ice. This event is sure to dazzle with a tree lighting and celebration in Central Park brought to you by the City of San Mateo and the San Mateo United Homeowners Association.

In addition to the tree lighting the event will feature live skating performances! Be amazed with performances by the Nazareth Ice Oasis Production group, Olympic skater Polina Edmunds, National skater Sarah Zhang, rising stars Alain Sandraz, Lily Sun, and Maria Yang and the ice dance team, Jeffery Chen and Layla Karnes.Ice Skates on Ice

The Nazareth Ice Oasis Production group puts on an event that combines the grace of figure skating with the excitement of theatre and dance. It is sure to be a performance you will never forget.

Olympic Skater Polina Edmunds holds the titles and awards of 2015 Four Continents Champion, 2014 US Senior Ladies Silver medalist, 2014 Olympian and 2014-2015 World Team Member. You will not want to miss out on seeing her show off her skills!

Alain Sandraz, Lily Sun, Maria Yang, and Sarah Zhang have all placed in recent Central Pacific Regional Figure Skating Championships. Show these stars your support and cheer them on.

At the 2015 Silicon Valley Open Jeffery Chen and Layla Karnes placed 1st in their category as a team. Do not miss out on their brilliant duet.

SnowflakeThese performances are sure to get you excited about San Mateo on Ice opening. Enjoy the tree lighting, be inspired by the performers, and enjoy the night with family and friends. Make sure you stop by Central Park on Friday, November 13th at 6:00pm to take part in these festivities!

Refreshments will be provided by the San Mateo City Parks and Recreation Foundation.

The ice is not open to the public at this event. The rink will open to the public on Saturday, November 14th for skating.

San Mateo On Ice Logo
Community, Community Events, Downtown, Parks and Recreation

San Mateo on Ice

Tree  Lighting and Ice Rink Celebration

Kick-off the holiday season in Central Park on Friday, November 13th !

The City of San Mateo and the San Mateo United Homeowners Association invite the San Mateo community to a magical tree lighting ceremony and the opening celebration of San Mateo on Ice.

Enjoy a performance by the Nazareth Ice Oasis Production group and figure skating performances by Olympic skater Polina Edmunds, National skater Sarah Zhang, and rising stars Alain Sandraz, Lily Sun, and Maria Yang. The ice dance team, Jeffery Chen and Layla Karnes, will also perform.

Shot of ice skater's legsThis spectacular event is taking place on Fitzgerald Field in San Mateo Central Park, located on 5th Avenue and El Camino Real. Don’t miss out! Save the date for Friday, November 13th! The event begins at 6:00 PM.

San Mateo on Ice will open to the public on Saturday, November 14th.  From this date on the rink will be open daily (including holidays!) through Sunday, January 10th.

When the rink does open it will feature 9,000 square feet of REAL ice for all ages to enjoy, the largest outdoor skating rink in the Bay Area. .

For more information and for tickets, please visit


Landscape architect's rendition of plans for Beresford Park
Community, Parks and Recreation

Beresford Park is Getting A New Look

The San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department plans to renovate the Beresford Park playground.

The playground is 23 years old and is in need of improvements. The City plans on improving the playground, surrounding pathways, and landscaping at Beresford Park located on 28th Avenue and Alameda. The renovation is planned to begin this fall and be completed by the spring of 2016.

Fucture Beresford Park drawing from an arial viewThe playground renovations are planned to include many fun new attractions for children including tower slides, net bridges, climbing walls, pendulum swings, monkey bars, and more.

Landscape improvements include the addition of a grotto, a commemorative brick walkway to recognize donors that have supported the renovation, and more.

The planned design of the park looks great but it is going to take some help from the community to ensure that everything in this plan becomes a reality. The City has set aside a majority of the necessary funds for this project but still needs the help of community members to ensure the whole goal is achieved.

The City of San Mateo Parks and Recreation Foundation will help us achieve this goal. The Foundation invites you to donate and leave a lasting impression. All proceeds will go towards playground renovations and will make a great Future Beresford Park playground drawing at eye leveldifference.

The Foundation is offering multiple ways to donate. One can show support by choosing a playground component and donating the amount of money that item costs. These items range from a $750 swing to a $10,000 tube slide. Every playground donor will be recognized with the placement of a personalized tile along the concrete seating wall in the park.

Another way to donate is through the Commemorative Brick Campaign. Contributors can make a donation of $250 for a personalized brick along the general pathway of the park or a $500 donation for a personalized brick at the main entrance to the playground.

Share in the joy of children and consider making your mark with donation to renovate this park loved and enjoyed by many. Your contribution will be greatly appreciated not only by the Foundation but also by the community, families, and children making memories at Beresford Park.

To donate online please visit:

City of San Mateo Parks & Rec logoDonation forms can also be picked up at San Mateo City Hall and be mailed to:
San Mateo City Park and Recreation Foundation
330 W. 20th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403

San Mateo City Parks and Recreation Foundation is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that works in collaboration with the City of San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department to support parks, recreation programs and capital projects that can be enjoyed by all San Mateo residents.