Last weekend brought live horse racing back to the Alameda County Fairgrounds, and it brought back live racing fans as well.
With no summer fair (postponed until Oct. 22-31), the problem facing organizers is getting the fans back to the track, without the lure of what the fair brings.
By the signs seen during the first three days, they are back, and they are coming in droves. Racing will continue Fridays through Sundays, with the last day set for Sunday, July 18.
And you have to give credit where credit is due in regard to the fans coming back.
The Alameda County Fair team is busting their humps in these unprecedented times. Faced with obstacles at every turn they have fought through, getting the biggest break when the mandated mask-wearing was lifted three days before the first weekend.
What I saw each of the first three days, despite two days of 100-plus temperatures, were people just happy to be able to attend an event. And it was not just men and women -- it was families as well.
With the ever-growing vibrant downtown area closed to cars on the weekend, in conjunction with the races, Pleasanton is the place to be on weekends!
With the weather for this weekend being far more comfortable, expect the crowds to grow. There are some restrictions. You need a ticket for a seat to get into the fairgrounds -- check the fair website -- making it not a free-for-all like when the fair runs concurrently.
Sure, there were some stumbles during the first weekend, but these are times people have never had to deal with before so the learning curve is high for everyone.
But adapting on the fly has always been a strength of the Pleasanton fair staff, and they did just that throughout the weekend.
Congratulations to the entire Alameda County Fair staff for a job well done opening weekend, and I am looking to what the next four weekends hold for horse racing fans!
The term "life of the party" gets thrown around too easily when describing people.
For 1979 Amador Valley High graduate Mike Chandler, it was the textbook definition of his life. "Chan" (as we all knew our classmate by) loved life, loved his friends, loved basketball and loved the party.
Make no mistake about it: When Chan was around, you always knew he was there and the energy level was enhanced.
But shockingly to all of us, the party ended Friday, June 18, when Chan passed away.
As the details are still being discovered and investigated into Chan's passing, the only detail that truly matters is that our friend is no longer with us.
In speaking with other classmates and friends over last weekend, the reaction was pretty much the same -- sorrow mixed with a sense of relief that finally Chan is at peace.
Of all the ways to describe Chan, extremely loyal to his friends probably is the most definitive.
He loved his buddies and he was never afraid to let you know that. When I turned 60 in January, I heard from Chan twice that day with the one constant was, "I love you brother and thank you for being in my life."
While Chan could certainly flirt the obnoxious line, sometimes crossing it, there was one thing for certain, he made you laugh -- and laugh hard.
No matter where you ran into Chan, he made sure you knew he appreciated you and your friendship in his own, unique way.
Chan, you were one of a kind and there will be a void in the old-school Pleasanton community that will not be replaced. RIP old friend.
Friends will be coming together this Saturday (June 26) at 5 p.m. at the Sunshine Saloon in Pleasanton to raise one final glass to Chan. All are welcome and all we ask to bring your favorite Chan story!
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]