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Stoneridge busier than ever over these four days of Thanksgiving weekend shopping

Mall celebrates 30th anniversary with new stores, coming New Year's Eve 'Ball at the Mall'

Stoneridge Shopping Center is celebrating its 30th year as a premium regional mall with new store openings and what's expected to be its busiest four days of shopping ever over this Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Stoneridge has been through these extraordinarily busy Christmas shopping seasons ever since it opened in 1980 as a premier shopping center operated by the Taubman group that also owned Eastridge Mall in San Jose, Hilltop Mall in Richmond and Sunvalley Mall in Concord. Up to then, Pleasanton residents traveled to Hayward to shop at a mall.

Stoneridge was originally planned by the Stoneson Development Corp. that had built Stonestown Galleria near San Francisco State University. Stoneson won out in obtaining Pleasanton City Council approval over Sears, Roebuck, which wanted to build a shopping center on the newly built I-580 at Hopyard Road.

Hundreds stood in line for the grand opening to be the first to shop at the anchor stores at Stoneridge, which included Macy's, Penney's and Emporium-Capwell. Nordstrom opened its Stoneridge store in 1990, and six years later the Emporium was acquired by Macy's, which turned that store into its second Stoneridge store focusing on men's and home furnishings departments. Sears opened its Stoneridge store in 1996.

Today, with 165 stores and more opening during the Christmas shopping season, Stoneridge is the largest mall in the East Bay and among the largest in northern California. Since being acquired by the Simon Property Group, it has added more programs for children and shopper services, including its Kidgits Club, entertainment and trackless shopper shuttle trams.

Between now and Christmas, jazz groups will perform from 4 to 6 p.m. every Thursday before Christmas, Oakland A's players will greet shoppers next Saturday with the Tony Hawk SHRED tour Dec. 18-19.

Cheerleaders from California High in San Ramon are partnering with the Taylor Family Foundation to operate gift wrap stations during the holiday season. There's no set fee with donations accepted and all proceeds to benefit Cal High and the Taylor and Simon Youth foundations.

On Wednesday, Rabbi Raleigh Resnick and the Chabad of the Tri-Valley will hold a public Chanukah celebration from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the mall.

Of course, Santa is always the highlight of family visits to Stoneridge. He's already taken his seat at the foot of the mall's colorfully decorated, two-story Christmas tree in the shopping center's Grand Court where photos are available as children visit with the jolly old man in red.

The Kidgits Factory is located on the other side of the tree from Santa and offers children a chance to visit on one of its "Destination Stations" that offer a variety of activities, games and product samplings.

Wrapping up the 30th year celebration will be the first "Ball at the Mall," scheduled New Year's Eve. A fundraiser to benefit nonprofit organizations, it is being held in cooperation with Stoneridge Shopping Center by the Pleasanton North Rotary Club. Sponsors and beneficiaries include Axis Community Health, School of Imagination, and the Partners in Education organizations from both Dublin and Pleasanton.

Expected to draw thousands to Stoneridge, the ball will be a dance party that has something for everyone -- a live band, a DJ (local favorite Brad Kinney) and a piano bar, as well as casino games, wine country hors d'oeuvres, wine tasting and cocktail bars. Tickets are $75-$100 each, while babysitter links are on the organization's site (theballatthemall.org

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