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‘ Tis the



December 2, 2016




DECEMBER 2, 2016



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Celebrate the season at Zephyr Grill & Bar AMY SCHRADER


hether you’re home alone for the holidays like Kevin McAllister, from the popular Christmas movie, or you

just want to celebrate the season with your friends and family, downtown Brentwood’s Zephyr Grill & Bar’s festive décor and holiday menu will put you in a holly jolly mood. “We really embrace Christmas in every way,” said Randy Tei, who owns the upscale restaurant with his wife Lynn. Their festive holiday menu includes Holiday Baked Brie; Candy Cane Beet Salad; a Christmas Wreath Salad, filled with grilled and toasted goodies that resemble a beautiful Christmas wreath; Partridge in a Pear Tree, a free-range, skin-on, bone-in chicken breast roasted with cranberry chutney glaze and served with Who holiday smash and roasted pears; A Christmas Story Duck; Grinch’s Roast Beast; gingerbread pudding; and pumpkin cheesecake. The Discovery Bay couple also owns the Zephyr Grill & Bar in Livermore, and the Icon Grill in downtown Seattle. Since its opening in Brentwood on Aug. 2, Zephyr has already earned a loyal customer base, who appreciate having another unique, non-chain restaurant to choose from. “I prefer unique and locally owned restaurants,” said

Photo by Tony Kukulich

Zephyr Grill & Bar in downtown Brentwood welcomes the season and their clients in a festive, holiday atmosphere complete with plenty of Christmas-themed dishes. Brentwood resident Susan Knight. “We need restaurants with amazing food and service, so when you and your friends are thinking of going out to dinner, your first thought is restaurants here in town, and not in Walnut Creek. Zephyr is just that type of place. The interior is warm and elegant, their service is excellent and the food is delicious.”

The Teis never expected such a positive response from the community. “It’s beyond our wildest dreams,” said Tei. “People in the community have been so positive, and we couldn’t be more appreciative or express our thanks enough.” While the Teis want to show their gratitude to the community, they also want to share their joy for the Christmas season, which includes giving back to others. Zephyr Grill & Bar will donate $1 from every pumpkin cheesecake, gingerbread pudding and Holiday Boot Tini cocktail to the Boot Campaign, which gives back to veterans. Their long-time friends John and Corinne Billheimer’s company, MAS, will match their donation. “We’re pretty excited about the Boot Campaign,” said Tei. “This time of year, we want to think of those less fortunate.” Other holiday events at Zephyr include their inaugural, cookie-decorating class on Dec. 10 and 17, at 9 a.m., followed by a Santa Brunch on both days, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are recommended for brunch and required for the cookie-decorating class, which is free and open to children ages 11 and under. Zephyr Grill & Bar, located at 613 First Street in Brentwood, is open on Christmas Eve, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch, and from 2 to 8 p.m. for dinner, with no seating after 8 p.m. They are closed on Christmas Day, but open during regular business hours on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For more information visit www. or call 925-418-4708. To comment, visit




DECEMBER 2, 2016


Turning up the tunes a great holiday gift AMY SCHRADER


t’s tough to shop for car enthusiasts; besides a subscription to a hot rod

magazine, you might want to consider rocking their holidays with a new car audio system. Pantell’s Music Box in Antioch has the perfect gift for the car junkie on your holiday list. The Pantell family has been installing audio systems since the mid 1960s. They began installing automobile record players and four- and eight-track systems, and now install state-of-the-art navigation, security systems and bluetooth- and iPodintegrated systems on cars, motorcycles and boats. The business was originally a fullservice Texaco gas station, started by George Pantell Sr. in 1950. In 1960, his son George Jr. took over the business and, by 1965, turned it into one of the first car-stereo shops in the area. George’s sons Keith, Mark and Ralph, and grandsons Tyler and Alex, now run the business. For more than 30 years, the three

Photo courtesy of Pantell’s Music Box

Since 1965, Pantell’s Music Box in Antioch has been East County’s holiday shop for the best-quality parts and service for mobile audio systems.

brothers have worked together, including four generations of their family – all committed to bringing the highest quality of sounds and service to their customers. “You don’t have to buy a new car to

have the latest technology,” said Keith Pantell. “With long commutes, people are in their cars two to four hours a day and want the convenience and technology of a great system in their car.”

Offering great systems means carrying the best brands. Pantell’s Music Box is the area’s largest Wet Sound dealer and specializes in the hottest brands, including Pioneer, Alpine, Viper, Sound Quest, Avital, Myron and Davis and more. They are experts at installing systems in autos, classic cars, boats, commercial vehicles and motorcycles. “We take a lot of pride in our work and make sure things are done right,” said Pantell. “It’s nice to be part of a community where people recognize your name, and that means something to us.” Their hard work and commitment to personalized service has earned them a loyal customer base. “I have been a customer of Pantell’s since 1986,” said Discovery Bay resident Steve Costello. “What I like most about them is that they are a family-run business and are a good group of guys who have been around a long time and do great work. They are also well-respected in the motorcycle industry and did a great job on my Road King.” Pantell’s Music Box is located at 407 G. St., in Antioch. For more information, visit or call 925-757-6618. To comment, visit

DECEMBER 2, 2016





It is that time of year again… important planning By Beth Miller-Rowe Branch Manager and Reverse Mortgage Specialist • The Reverse Mortgage Group • A Branch of American Pacific Mortgage

I am attending a conference in Chicago as I write this article. I am listening to a presenter speak about a topic I feel is timely and relevant to this time of year. As we approach the end of the year, we begin to think about what we want to accomplish in the next year. We make our resolutions; we write them down and hang them on the fridge. We promise to clean out the garage and travel to Italy. I am going to exercise more, eat less, work more, work less and spend more quality time with family and friends.

How about Planning for Life’s Hiccups? Due to the graying of America, and our extended longevity, it is important that we address the eventuality of illness, medical emergencies and long-term goals for medical care. Dr. Lee Lindquist, MD., MPH., MBA, (1) obtained a research grant to determine if people think about potential medical crises that may come up later in retirement. The answers were interesting and surprising. The research showed that yes, people do think about these topics, but they do not have actual conversations about them because: Their kids don’t want to talk about it because it is never going to happen to their Mom or Dad. They know they are not prepared, financially or emotionally, for these types of eventualities, so why think about it. They feel like they are too healthy, so it will never happen to them. They feel like they are too sick, so they won’t make it that far. What ends up happening is that these questions get answered during a crisis which is never good. Dr. Lindquist thoughtfully pointed out that we make plans for college, marriage, babies, careers and retirement and even for our own funeral services. As we think about retirement, we may have general or specific plans for travel, spending time with grandkids or enjoying a slower pace. What we do not plan for are potential medical emergencies in between retirement and death. These types of emergencies can be small temporary hiccups or major, life-changing crises – hospitalizations, traumatic injury or illness, longterm treatments, need for skilled nursing facility or the loss of a spouse and the resulting loss of income. These are difficult topics and difficult conversations. No one wants to talk about these subjects but it is critical to smooth out the anxiety and adrenalin of a medical crisis.

Let’s look at a scenario: Mom falls and breaks her hip. She is in

the hospital, and she will need surgery and rehabilitation. Once all this is done, it may or may not be appropriate for Mom to go back home, even if Dad is able and willing to take care of her. Dad is at home trying to cope with all the issues that go along with a medical crisis, and he has some health issues himself. The kids arrive to help. They have left their kids, spouses and jobs to be by your side. They make the calls for in-home help, visit the social workers at the hospital regarding a nursing facility, they cook up some meals for Dad to heat up while Mom is gone. They try to help all they can, but they do eventually have to go back home likely with many questions left unanswered.

Think of a new order for life’s hiccups – give yourself a voice in your future care: is a website that walks you through these questions. You make decisions and indicate your preferences. If you experience memory loss, what are your preferences for care? If you get cancer, what are your preferences for treatment? If you fall and break a hip, which hospital and rehabilitation facility do you prefer? Do you know what your options are for the varied types of health care you may need at 65? How about 75? How about 80 or 90? How about 100 years old? Visit the nursing facilities around your local hospital. Let your kids know which you like best, if you would prefer at-home rehab and is that feasible? Do you have friends who have had a good experience with a particular in-home health agency? How about a bad experience with an agency? That may be the more important question. If you are not able to go back home, are you open to a senior community? Do you have friends who live in a community you like? Have you thought about the village concept? Do you like organized activities, would you like to cook for yourself or would you prefer a meal plan? Perhaps you would rather move closer to your kids. Would you want to live BY them or WITH them? Would THEY want you to live by them or with them? Have you spoken to your kids about your wants, needs, desires and demands for that time when emotions will be running high with fear and uncertainty? Check out the book “Can’t we talk about something more pleasant,” – it is a great conversation starter – or use the website and hand them your answers. It too is a great

conversation starter. If you can remove the uncertainty, wouldn’t that be helpful to everyone? Wouldn’t it be nice for you to have a voice in how your life plays out, whether you can express those desires at the time of crisis or not? With, you can do just that. Tell your family what you want, when you want it and what your plans are for paying for it. A reverse mortgage certainly may be a tool you can utilize to insure you have sufficient funds to remain independent, secure and confident about the rest of your life. There is a lot of research about taking out a reverse mortgage earlier rather than later, which may extend the life of all your retirement assets (2). I would love to meet with you to chat further about how a reverse mortgage may help you to eliminate at least some of the stress that comes with unexpected emergencies.

Happy holidays and happy planning! (1) Lindquist, L. A., Ramirez-Zohfeld, V., Sunkara, P., Forcucci, C., Campbell, D., Mitzen, P., & Cameron, K. A. (2016). Advanced life events (ALEs) that impede agingin-place among seniors. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 64, 90-95. DOI: 10.1016/j.archger.2016.01.004 (2) “Reversing the Conventional Wisdom: Using Home Equity to Supplement Retirement Income” by Barry H. Sacks, J.D., Ph.D. and Stephen R. Sacks, Ph.D.

Office: 925-969-0380 Cell: 925-381-8264 3478 Buskirk Ave., Ste. 1000 Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

BRE: 00950759/01215943 • NMLS: 294774/831612/1850 Licensed by the Dept of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act




DECEMBER 2, 2016


The ABC’s of gift-giving


espite our best of intentions, at some point in the holiday process we either

come up empty or run out of creative ideas for those all-important people on our gift-giving list.

It’s ok, you are far from alone, and although there might not be something here for all those pesky, hard-to-buy-for people on your list, we hope it’ll help get those ideas flowing again. We also hope you’ll pick up what you need right here in East County. Remember, shopping locally not only saves gas and time, it helps your neighbors and your neighborhood by supporting their business and keeping tax dollars close to home. A is for Album Jazz up your gift recipients’ holidays with some music. RPM Records in Brentwood’s Sunset Plaza has an amazing array of vintage vinyl, CDs and cassettes. If the thought of tunes isn’t music to your ears, the store also features video games, books, comics, art, clothing and jewelry. Many of the albums are three for $15, and the store also accepts trade-ins. To make your gift a hit, visit the store at 7720 Brentwood Blvd., Suite A, on Tuesday through Thursday, from 3 to 7 p.m.

B is for Barbeque Turn up the heat on your gifting experience by giving a grill. Brentwood Outdoor Living is located at 6061 Lone Tree Way, behind Buffalo Wild Wings, in Brentwood. The store is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 925-626-6383. Visit, C is for Creativity Give the artists in your life a creative outlet with a paint night experience. One local painter, playfully known as Bindu the Ox, blends adult humor, music and expert instruction into his often sold-out shows. He promises all participants will leave with a stitch in their side from laughing and a masterpiece in their hands. For more information, visit www. D is for Dark Chocolate Few things sweeten up people’s lives more than chocolate. Bella Sweet Shoppe, at 3860 Balfour Road, Suite A, in Brentwood, offers chocolate and so much more, with its assortment of cookies, ice cream and caramelized apples. All the sweetness can be scooped up Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday, from 3 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 925-265-3043. E is for Earrings Live up to the old adage that a diamond is

a girl’s best friend by giving the girls in your life a few glittering jewels. K & Co Family Jewelers at 741 2nd St., in Brentwood is a great choice as is Crème dela Gem also in downtown Brentwood at 626 1st St. F is for Facial Sawã Spa, located at 1700 Trilogy Parkway, in Brentwood, is the place to go for facials and just about any other beauty treatment you can think of. Visit for ideas to pamper your over-worked loved ones. G is for Gardening Do you know someone who loves gardening? Introduce them to Delta Informal Gardeners, a local club for green thumbs. Affectionately known as DIG, the club meets monthly to hear from local experts about the latest in gardening tips best suited for East County growing. A individual club membership is $15, and family memberships are $20. For more information, visit www. H is for Honey Raw honey collected in your local area is not only tasty and easy to come by, it also can be used in a wide variety of applications, from cooking to health to beauty. To stock up on honey from a local, family business, visit Dwelley Farms at 515 Delta Road, in Brentwood, or call 925- 634-6508. I is for Imagination Barnes and Noble, located at 5709 Lone Tree Way, in Antioch, offers an array of new books in every imaginable genre. Open up your imagination and flip through the pages of a new best seller or a time-honored classic. For more information, visit www.barnesandnoble. com or call 925-978-1031. J is for Jumping Do you need a way for the kids to burn see ABC’s page 7B

DECEMBER 2, 2016

ABC’s from page 6B off extra energy during the holidays? What about all those extra celebratory calories for the kids at heart? Head over to Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park, at 5641 Lone Tree Way, in Brentwood, or to Pump It Up, an inflatables party place, at 5351 Neroly Road, in Oakley, for hours of jumping fun. K is for Kitten Are you looking to expand your family this holiday season? Why not give yourself or someone you love (and whom you know wants a pet) the gift of a rescued kitten. HARP (Homeless Animal Rescue Program) and HALO (Homeless Animal Lifeline Organization) in East County can help. Visit or for more details. L is for Laundry Basket Stuff a beautiful wicker laundry basket full of elegant bathroom essentials, such as handcrafted soaps, monogrammed hand towels or a plush floor mat. HomeGoods, located at 2460 Sand Creek Road, in Brentwood, has the latest in all your interior design needs. And while you’re there, Monogramming by Frichy, located at 2420 Sand Creek Road, can help personalize those hand towels. M is for Mason Jar The gift possibilities are endless when it comes to mason jars. Layer them with ingredients for a ready-made cookie recipe that looks as cute as it is tasty, or put together a sewing kit for your favorite quilter, complete with a pincushion top and adorned with ribbons. Create a ‘mini bar in a jar’ with cocktail ingredients and fancy straws or a

‘TIS THE SEASON luxury bath kit filled with spa-style products. No matter your choice, you can purchase a crate of jars at Ace Hardware, 8900 Brentwood Blvd., in Brentwood, and create gifts with a personal touch. N is for Notebook Even if you don’t know an up-andcoming Hemingway, just about everyone can find a use for a notebook. Whether it’s bound in leather or covered in lace, there’s something charming about a book with fresh pages, meant for notes. You can find lovely paper, pens and journals for your loved ones this season at Tuesday Morning, 2410 Sand Creek Road, in Brentwood. O is for Olive Oil If you’re looking for a gift someone will actually use, high quality, locally grown and pressed olive oil is on the list of must-haves. The McCauley Olive Grove grows its own olives and crafts unique blends of extra virgin olive oil, ranging in price from $6.50 to $56. McCauley’s sells its wares through a number of vendors in Brentwood, but to get to the source, visit 300 Balfour Road, in Brentwood. P is for Photo Coasters Instead of stuffing photos away in an album to sit on a dusty shelf, your loved ones may want to display their precious moments in a way that doesn’t take up tons of shelf space. Glenn Combs, Brentwood business owner of E-Z Ink Promotions can help take pictures and turn them into photo coasters, a gift that will make its recipient smile every time they take a sip. see ABC’s page 15B



free gift with purchase over $50.00





DECEMBER 2, 2016


Creating the perfect gift at Gursky Ranch AMY SCHRADER


s the owner of the Gursky Ranch Country Store, Brentwood’s neighborhood

gourmet, Lynn Gursky has assembled countless gourmet gift baskets over the past 30 years. From the store’s huge assortment of dried fruits, nuts, candies, specialty soups, oils, sauces and more than 390 gourmet items, the Gursky Ranch Country Store has something to delight the chef, foodie or anyone looking for a taste of Brentwood and the county’s most delicious, locally grown treats. “Our specialty is making gift baskets,” said Gursky. “Our baskets are unique, handpacked and can be made using anything in the store.” Choosing the most delicious and unique morsels are important to the Gurskys, who have been part of the agricultural heritage in Brentwood for four generations. Before Roy and Lynn Gursky moved to Brentwood in 1975, Roy’s grandfather and his father ran a dairy on Empire Mine Road in Antioch and farmed land on Orwood

Photo courtesy of Lynn Gursky

Gursky Ranch Country Store is Brentwood’s neighborhood gourmet – the perfect place to find gourmet food items and beautiful gift baskets for the holidays. Island in the Delta. When Roy and his brother Barry graduated from agricultural management programs, they brought their wives to the ranch, which became a feed lot. When the cattle market declined, they lost the ranch and pursued other careers.

Roy became a realtor and broker while Barry worked as a teacher. Roy and Barry couldn’t stay away from their farming lifestyle and eventually moved their family to a walnut ranch on Apricot Way in Brentwood. “My husband wanted to get back to

his agricultural roots,” said Gursky. “We had 12 acres of walnuts and the country store started with us marketing walnuts from our garage.” Over the years, the business grew alongside the community, and the Gurskys added more and more products to their store. Whenever possible, they carry local products, supporting other local businesses and the bounty of the county’s harvest. They have also created a loyal customer base. “I shop there weekly,” said Brentwood resident Jan Schults. “Their products are local and so good, and their gift baskets are gorgeous. I pick out baskets for my friends and family, and they make them look beautiful and even ship them for me.” According to Gursky, who runs the business with her son Steve and his wife Sarah, customers mean everything to them. “It’s our loyal fan base that keeps us going,” said Gursky. “We have such wonderful customers.” The Gursky Ranch Country Store, located at 1921 Apricot Way in Brentwood, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit or call 925-634-4913. To comment, visit

Season’s Greetings from your neighborhood REALTOR

Susan Redgrave! Join us for a Pajama Party and Photos with Santa! Friday

Dec. 2nd - 6pm-9pm


Dec. 3rd - 9am-12pm

141 Sand Creek Road, Suite E, Brentwood Feel free to contact me at (925) 483-3294 with any questions! And be sure to ask for me when you come take your picture with Santa!

Susan Redgrave

(925) 483-3294 CalBRE#01997935 An independently owned and operated member of BHH Affiliates, LLC


radition is a major component of the Jewish faith, so it’s no surprise that tradition

plays a central role during the celebration of Chanukah. Although some are quick to note Chanukah is not one of the major Jewish holidays, Chanukah is celebrated in a very






2011 2010




public fashion. Chanukah celebrants make the holiday more high profile by displaying their menorahs in prominent locations and participating in holiday meals. Like other Jewish holidays, Chanukah is shrouded in tradition. Chanukah means ‘dedication’ or ‘induction’ in Hebrew. The holiday begins on the 25th of Kislev and can occur in either November or see Chanukah page 13B




20 2 100 L



2014 20 2 133 MEDAL LD AWARD


20 2 111


Traditions key to Chanukah celebrations





DECEMBER 2, 2016




DECEMBER 2, 2016


Holiday Happenings Friday, Dec. 2

Saturday, Dec. 3

BRENTWOOD TREE LIGHTING The City of Brentwood presents its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, at the community center and City Park, 35 Oak St. Sponsored by the city and the Brentwood Neighborhood Committee, the event will feature music, singing, hot drinks, goodies and visits with Santa. The tree lighting will take place promptly at 7 p.m.

VISIT WITH SANTA Smith Family Farm and Special Kids Foundation present the 10th-annual Visit With Santa at 4430 Sellers Ave., in Knightsen, from 9 to 11 a.m. Eastern Contra Costa County special kids and their families are invited to spend quiet time with Santa. Special Kids volunteers will take a 4x6 photo of you and your child with Santa in the barn, free of charge. The farm will be open exclusively for special kids until 10 a.m. For more information, visit

LEER VINEYARDS TREE LIGHTING Leer Vineyards presents the Campos family’s inaugural Christmas Tree Lighting, at 6:30 p.m. This free event features photos with Santa, Allison’s Art Bus and Cupcake Truck, live music, carols and wine. Please bring a warm coat or blanket to donate and enter a drawing for a gift basket. Leer Vineyards is located at 3501 Byer Road, in Brentwood. For more information or tickets, call 925-308-7963.

“A CHRISTMAS STORY” Liberty High School’s Playmakers presents “A Christmas Story,” at 850 2nd St., in Brentwood, from 2 to 4 p.m. The story follows the trials and tribulations of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, a child in small-town Indiana during the late 1940s, and his obsession with the Red Ryder air rifle he desperately hopes to get for Christmas. Tickets are $7 for

the Brentwood Concert Band, Celebration Ringers, Brentwood Flute Choir, middle school students and retirees. Admission is a toy donation or monetary contribution to Toys for Tots.

the general public and $5 for children 12 and under. For more information, email lhsplaymakers@ CHRISTMAS ART SHOW CR Framing and Gallery presents its fifth-annual Christmas Art Show, from Dec. 3 through 22, at 700 Harvest Park Dr., in Brentwood, with a reception on Dec. 3, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. For more information, call 925-634-7742.

Monday, Dec. 5 A MUSICAL CELEBRATION Toys for Tots presents “A Holiday Musical Celebration,” at the Brentwood Community Center, 35 Oak St., at 7 p.m. The event features

Friday, Dec. 9 APPALACHIAN WINTER St. Anne Catholic Church hosts the Byron United Methodist Church and Delta Community Presbyterian Church choirs performing “Appalachian Winter: A Cantata for Christmas,” at 2800 Camino Diablo, in Byron, at 7 p.m. For more information, call 925-634-1411. “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE” Stage Right Conservatory Theatre, Inc. presents, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center, 213 F St., in Antioch, Dec. 9,


A gift for your loved ones that also protects your finances. And the assets you hope to pass on. Call me for a personal appointment, or to find a free seminar near you. Angie Apolinar, Pre-Need Specialist Call (925) 848-4090


Tuesday: Authentic Beef Tacos $8

Wednesday: Prime Rib Night $25

Thursday: Lobster Night $25

Available In The Bar Lounge Only

With Choice Of Potato

Lobster Tail With Choice Of Potato

Walnut Creek 850 South Broadway 925-943-5666

Brentwood 2270 Balfour Road 925-240-2828

DECEMBER 2, 2016

10, 16 and 17, at 7 p.m. and Dec. 11 and 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors and $5 for children 10 and under. Seniors pay $5 for matinee performances. For more information, call 925-216-4613 or visit NIGHT OF GIVING Kiwanis and Rotary Club of the Delta present A Night of Giving, benefiting the Salvation Army, at Lone Tree Golf Course, 4800 Golf Course Road, in Antioch, at 6 p.m. The event features dinner, dancing, wine tasting and live music courtesy of the Brentwood Big Band. Tickets are $75 each. For more information, contact Randall Clarke at 916-335-7593 or HOLIDAY BASKET BLESSING Byron United Methodist Church presents the blessing of 100 Kaleidoscope Cancer Connection holiday baskets, at 1461 Byron Highway, in Byron, at 10 a.m. The holiday baskets will be distributed to those battling cancer, providing some holiday cheer. For more information, call Sue Sharp at 925-634-1948.


“CHRISTMAS CAROLED” The Brentwood Theater Company presents a choral presentation of Christmas music, “Christmas Caroled,” at Delta Gallery, 2485 Sand Creek Road, in Brentwood, on Dec. 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18, at 2 p.m., and on Dec. 9 and 16, at 7 p.m. The holiday musical features Christmas classics, as well as not-so-traditional Christmas songs. Admission is free and open to everyone. For more information, email or call 925-437-6360.

Saturday, Dec. 10 “NUTCRACKER” Black Diamond Ballet Theatre presents “Nutcracker,” at the Pittsburg Creative Arts Building, 250 School St., in Pittsburg, on Dec. 10, at 7 p.m., and on Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $10 to $20. For more information or tickets, visit or call 925-754-9833. BREAKFAST WITH SANTA Heritage High School hosts Breakfast with Santa and jazz performances, featuring the Heritage

jazz bands, photos with Santa and a pancake breakfast, prepared by the Rotary Club. Support the Brentwood Community Chest by bringing canned food or a new, unwrapped toy. Tickets are $10. For guaranteed seats, purchase in advance. For more information or tickets, email, call 925-3541111 or visit

Monday, Dec. 12 SNOWMEN IN THE PARK Brentwood’s Parks and Recreation Department presents Snowmen in the Park, from Dec. 12 through 22. There will be photo opportunities available every night from 6 to 8 p.m. Enjoy Christmas music, lighted snowman plots and snow on the Christmas tree. To register for a snowman plot for $16 per entry, visit

Tuesday, Dec. 13 HOLIDAY PACK FOR THE TROOPS Brentwood Auto Parts and Operation Creekside present the fourth-annual Holiday Pack for the Troops, at 757 1st St., in Brentwood, at 6 p.m. Volunteers are needed to




participate in the packing, as well as donations for the holiday boxes. Suggested donation items include nuts, granola bars, powdered drink mixes, fruit snacks, hand warmers, travel-size shampoo and conditioner, socks, hand written thank-you notes and more. Monetary donations to cover shipping costs are also welcome. For more information, call 925-6343952 or email

Friday, Dec. 16 “THE NUTCRACKER” The Ballet Company of East County presents “The Nutcracker,” at El Campanil Theatre, 602 West 2nd St., in Antioch, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., Dec. 17, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Dec. 18, at noon and 4 p.m. Ticket prices range from $16 to $20. For more information or tickets, call 925-757-9500 or visit

Tuesday, Dec. 20 AN IRISH CHRISTMAS The California Theatre presents “An Irish Christmas,” at 351 Railroad Ave., in Pittsburg, at 7 p.m. For more information or tickets, call 925-427-1611.





DECEMBER 2, 2016

NORAD tracking Santa for over sixty years


n Dec. 24, 1955, a call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command For more than 60 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has been tracking Santa’s whereabouts as he makes his Yuletide journey around the globe.

(CONAD) operations center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. However, this call was not from the president or a general. It was from a young child in Colorado Springs who was following the directions in an advertisement printed in the local paper – the youngster wanted to know the whereabouts of Santa Claus. The ad had read, “Hey, kiddies! Call me direct and be sure and dial the correct number.” However, the number was printed incorrectly in the advertisement and rang into the CONAD operations center. On duty that night was Col. Harry Shoup, who has come to be known as the ‘Santa Colonel.’ Shoup received numerous calls that evening and, rather than hanging up, had his operators find the location of Santa Claus and report it to every child who phoned in. Thus began a tradition carried on by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) when it was formed in 1958. Today, through satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters, NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his

Photo courtesy of Michel Tcherevkoff

Yuletide journey around the world. Every year on Dec. 24, 1,500 volunteers staff telephones and computers to answer calls and emails from children (and adults) from around the world. Live updates are provided through the NORAD Tracks Santa website in seven languages, over telephone lines and by email to keep curious children and their families informed about Santa’s whereabouts and if it’s time to get to bed.

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Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa website receives nearly 9 million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers receive more than 140,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline from children around the globe. This year, children and the young at heart are able to track Santa through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. To follow on any of these websites, type in

@noradsanta into the search engine and start tracking. NORAD Tracks Santa has become a magical and global phenomenon, delighting generations of families everywhere. For more information about NORAD Tracks Santa, visit For more information about NORAD, visit – Courtesy Metro Creative

DECEMBER 2, 2016

Chanukah from page 9B December. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Chanukah includes menorah displays, traditional foods and games and songs. Chanukah rose to prominence due to the story of faith and miracle behind its inception. Antiochus IV was a Greek sovereign in control of the region of Syria, Egypt and Palestine, where many Jews resided. Antiochus began to oppress the Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion and desecrating the Jewish temple. Opposition to Antiochus grew, and a group led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son, Judah Maccabee, took on the Syrian army. They were successful in their efforts to combat religious oppression, and the temple was subsequently rededicated. The Talmud describes that, at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. This posed a problem, because oil was needed to burn the temple menorah throughout the night every night. However, there was only enough left for one night’s illumination. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight nights, leading to the development of an eight-day festival to commemorate this miracle. Because Chanukah is about the miracle of the oil and the lasting flame, oil and candles factor heavily in the holiday. A nine-armed menorah called the hanukiah





Like other Jewish holidays, Chanukah is shrouded in tradition. Chanukah means ‘dedication’ or ‘induction’ in Hebrew. is lit, one candle at a time, on each of the eight nights of the celebration. The last branch of the candelabra holds the shamash (servant) candle. The organization Reform Judaism says the traditional song “Ma’oz Tzur (Rock of Ages)” is sung after the lighting of the candles each night and at other times throughout the holiday. Foods fried in oil, including latkes and jelly doughnuts, are consumed as well, giving to charity is encouraged and celebrants play games with a dreidel, a German-based spinning top. Chanukah is one of the few times of the year when rabbis permit games of chance. The letters atop the dreidel stand for the first letter of each word in the Hebrew statement “Neis gadol hayah sham,” which translates to “A great miracle happened there,” and refers to the defeat of the Syrian army and the rededication of the temple. – Courtesy Metro Creative

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DECEMBER 2, 2016

Socialyte provides one-stop holiday shopping H E AT H E R B R E W E R


s the holidays draw near and people check their lists, there is one business in

downtown Brentwood keeping the shelves stocked with the top glam items for the fashionista in everyone’s lives. Opened at their current location in December 2014, Socialyte Boutique carries unique, high-quality clothing and accessories, which are all hand picked by owner Lenna Billeci. “During the holidays, we will be running weekly promotions to ensure our customers get superior items at reasonable prices,” said Lenna. “We want to keep people interested in retail, and we feel our price points draw even the most fiscally conservative shopper.” Over the last two years, the stylish boutique has grown under Lenna’s guidance, which has kept track with the increasing popularity of the downtown area. “Thanks to the expansion of Brentwood’s downtown and to events like the farmers markets and festivals, the business has really developed, and we get a lot of return customers,” she said.

“Being involved with organizations like the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Brentwood Coalition really helps us connect to our community. This is real destination shopping; we’re not a mall.” Lenna puts her years of experience in the retail industry to work, making sure each customer’s experience in her store is perfect and helping them find exactly what they are looking for. “Coming from a big box retailer to a family-run business changed my whole approach to retail,” she said. “When you own a small business, it requires 24/7 work to keep it running. When people think of this store, I want them to think of me, so I am always here and on my ‘A’ game.” In addition to offering fabulous fashion, Socialyte is also home to Jessica’s Beauty Cave, which is run by Jessica Billeci. “Jessica and I have done something unique, and we happened to be best friends as well,” said Lenna. “(That made it) fun for us to combine our businesses. Jessica grew up in Pittsburg and has been a stylist for 20 years, so nestled inside Socialyte, you will find a stunning Beauty Cave that loves to make you over. We have combined our beauty geniuses and do what we do best, style you from ‘head to toe.’” So far, the pairing has been making waves in Brentwood, bringing in clients from the immediate area and surrounding cities.

Photo by Heather Brewer

Lenna Billeci, owner of Socialyte Boutique in Brentwood, offers great deals on trendy, high-quality fashions and accessories during the holidays and all year round. “I started going to Jessica in February, and I must say, it wasn’t easy for me to switch beauticians, said Lisa B., a Clayton resident, in an online review. “Luckily for me, not only is she a coloring expert, but also an expert with extensions, up-to-date cuts, styles and trendy colors, and she also has mastered make-up. I highly recommend you give her a try; I’m so grateful to have found her. She’s located inside a clothing store, so it’s a nice bonus to shop for a new dress or new top to compliment your new do.”

For the holidays and beyond, Jessica and Lenna encourage anyone to stop by Socialyte Boutique for all the glitzy, trendy fashions they seek. “If you are looking to give your wardrobe a facelift or just want to get spruced up for a party, Socialyte is your one-stop shop for fashion and beauty,” said Lenna. Socialyte Boutique is located at 236 Oak St., in Brentwood. For more information, call 925-550-7365 or visit To comment, visit

DECEMBER 2, 2016

ABC’s from page 7B Q is for Quality In the midst of frantic holiday shopping and scheduling time for family and friends, quality time can unintentionally be pushed to the back burner as quantity boils over. Being present with the ones you’re with instead of worrying about getting to the next shop or appointment on time can be worth more to a loved one than any box with a bow. R is for Retro For the eclectic collector in your life, Urban Jumble Antiques and Salvage at 307 G St., in Antioch, has retro items in spades. From metal toy cars to scales to trunks to typewriters, you’re bound to find a unique gift they’ll delight in. S is for Savory The Byron Inn Café, at 16141 Byron Highway, in Byron, brings savory to a whole new level. After spending years working in upscale restaurants in San Francisco, owner and chef Roberto Rose’s farm-to-fork creations, including the ‘wafflewich,’ are out of this world. Having extended family in town is the perfect excuse to go treat your taste buds without having to cook it first. T is for Theater The Delta Theater in downtown Brentwood is a great way to enjoy going to the movies without breaking the bank. The small, two-screen theater harkens back to when Brentwood was still a budding town, and while it boasts big titles like “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and Disney’s “Moana,” its prices reflect that time period. Where else

‘TIS THE SEASON can you see a great movie for under $8? U is for Underprivileged Do you have clothing and other items collecting dust and space around the house? H.O.P.E. House, at 218 Pine St. in Brentwood, will gladly help you de-clutter. The program collects food, clothing and household items for families in need in Brentwood, Knightsen, Bethel Island, Discovery Bay, Oakley and Byron. By helping supplement food and clothing needs for more than 1,000 people a month, there’ll be no coal in your stocking this Christmas. V is for Volunteer There is no shortage of valuable ways to give during the season, whether it’s popping a few dollars into the local Salvation Army bucket, picking a name from a local organization’s holiday gift tree or volunteering at your local food bank or community event. The Brentwood Regional Community Chest is always a great way to give locally, and the group is always looking for an extra pair of hands. For more information, contact Dana Eaton at or W is for Wine If a taste of the grape is what’s on your list this year, East County offers one-stop shopping for all your vino-loving friends. Stop in at CoCo Wine Company 925-634-9463; Hannah Nicole Vineyards 925-240-9463; Leer Vineyards, now under new ownership, 925-308-7963; Tamayo Vineyards 925-7668124; or Vine+Grain 925-513-5359; all in Brentwood. Discovery Bay has UnWined, an eclectic wine and cheese bar, under new

ownership, 925-420-3188. If the aficionado on your list prefers beer, many of these establishments offer craft beers in bottles and on tap as well. X is for Xylophone Geddes Music, located at 359 Oak St., in Brentwood, sells new and used instruments and the staff offers lessons for budding musicians who could use some insight from the pros. Visit www.geddesmusicstore. com for more information. Y is for Yoga Yoga – a small word with big benefits. Sign up for classes at the Brentwood Yoga Center and cash in on the stress and pain relief, improved breathing and flexibility and better strength and weight management this ancient practice offers. Brentwood Yoga




Center provides safe, educational, fun yoga to all ages, body shapes and abilities. It’s a Christmas present with a twist, and you can find it at 8650 Brentwood Blvd., Suite H, in Brentwood. For more information, call 925-240-6864. Z is for Zephyr This holiday season, Zephyr Grill & Bar will donate $1 from every pumpkin cheesecake, gingerbread pudding and Holiday Boot Tini cocktail to the Boot Campaign, which gives back to veterans. Other holiday events at the Zephyr include their inaugural cookie-decorating class on Dec. 10 and 17, at 9 a.m., followed by a Santa Brunch on both days, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. So gear up and head down to get your holidays off on the right track!





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'Tis the Season 12.2.16  

Your guide to all things gift-giving this holiday season.