Vasona Park’s Fantasy of Lights (Light Festival)

21st Annual Fantasy of Lights logo, from the SCCP holiday event page 2020
22nd Annual Fantasy of Lights logo, from the SCCP event page.

The 22nd annual Fantasy of Lights show at Vasona Lake County Park begins soon! Occasionally people call me to ask about it – please note that I do not run the event – I am only posting information about it. Full info can be found on the county’s park website, linked below.

22nd annual Fantasy of Lights

When: The Fantasy of Lights runs from Friday, December 4th to Saturday, December 30th, 2020 from 6 – 9pm. This year there will be no Fantasy of Lights Walk-Thru, an opening tradition, only the drive-through spectacular. As always, the Fantasy of Lights is closed on Christmas Day.

Where: Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road (near University Avenue) Los Gatos, CA

How much: Tickets must be purchased in advance available online through EventBrite. Cost is $20 – per vehicle. One household per vehicle! As of this writing, November 30th, all dates and times for the 2020 Fantasy of Lights are already sold out!

More details:

Please visit the Santa Clara County Parks page for the Fantasy of Lights to get more information and updates on this event.

This year the pandemic is bringing changes on this holiday tradition. However, the socially-distant nature of this event has made it especially popular in 2020! As mentioned above, there will be no walk-through event, no bus admission, limit to one household per vehicle, and nights will run an hour shorter than last year to comply with the mandatory curfew. Visitors health and safety is given top priority for this event!

The annual Holiday Train ride with the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad does not appear on the BJWRR calendar, and it is unclear whether it will be open for operation during the Fantasy of Lights Season. (In summer I learned the railroad was closed under the directive for Amusement Parks, however their social media pages show that they planned to be open the weekend of November 21-22, so they may be operating under different sector currently.) Check their social media or contact BJWRR for information on operations.

More questions? PLEASE do NOT call me about this event – I’m a Realtor in Los Gatos, I’m not in charge of this venue! Please contact the SCC Parks Dept and check out their website for the Fantasy of Lights! The Vasona phone number is (408) 355-2201.

Please visit Live in Los Gatos for year round events, neighborhood information, photos around the town, interesting real estate market data, haunted places and the occasional historical tidbit.

 

Los Gatos is a wonderful place to visit during the holidays, but it’s also a great place to live year round! If you are interested in buying a home in Los Gatos (or selling one), please contact me, Mary Pope-Handy. I’m both a Realtor in town and a resident myself, working full time in helping nice folks to buy & sell homes here and throughout the west valley.

If you aren’t familiar with the area, here are a few things to know!
Buy a home in Los Gatos (info on neighborhoods, school districts, homes for sale to browse online, links to important local sites & info)
Relocating and buying a house in Los Gatos
Los Gatos real estate on Facebook
Los Gatos real estate market statistics & trends for houses
Los Gatos realty trends and stats for condos & townhouses

 

 

Saratoga Highlands, Rio Rinconada, Granada Way and La Rinconada Park Neighborhood

Saratoga Highlands, Rio Rinconada, Granada Way and La Rinconada Park neighborhood are situated in west Los Gatos near the Campbell and Saratoga borders. As they are close to the large Safeway and surrounding shops along Pollard Road, this is a very convenient community.In this area you’ll find a beautiful park and tidy neighborhood with homes of varying sizes and price tags. From looking at the plat maps, I believe that originally this entire area was part of the Rinconada Hills tract of land, but today just part of the area, the gated community, bears that name. (Video below of a sampling of the area that I took from 2014!)

 

 

Please continue reading for much more information on the neighborhood!

Read moreSaratoga Highlands, Rio Rinconada, Granada Way and La Rinconada Park Neighborhood

What’s New? Changes and Re-Openings in Los Gatos

Open Sign NeonSpring has stretched into summer and while closure protocols remain in place, the Town of Los Gatos has been progressively re-opening.

Safe Summer Reading

Socially distant opportunities are ever-expanding. The Town Library is working hard to circulate your summer-reads safely. Residents can now check-out material online with safe patio pick-up for books, CDs, and DVDs. Virtual services include online classes and remote storytimes in addition to the virtual library services already in place.

Summer concerts have gone virtual, too, at least for Jazz on the Plazz.

Back in Business

Unfortunately, increasing virus spread has led to a rollback on opening many indoor services. Outdoors, however, there’s plenty to do!

Back in May the Town Council began work and the April-approved reallocation of $1.9M in surplus to bolster local COVID-19 economic recovery. Some of this has been used to help create the outdoor expansions into temporary parklets.

If you haven’t been downtown recently, it’s all hustle and bustle with the new setup. Patio dining is now available at many of your favorite restaurants. Personal services including hair salons, cosmetologists, nail salons, and barbershops are now also open for business – outdoors and by reservation only. The weekly farmers market is still open for business every Sunday.

While indoor malls remain closed you can still enter shops in outdoor malls or at standalone stores, so window-shoppers, follow the posted rules and enjoy stalking the shelves!

Re-Opening the Outdoors

Los Gatos Collage Re-OpeningTrails and parks remain open with social distancing requirements. Boating on Vasona Lake is open with plenty of safety protocols in place. County parks have yet to reopen playgrounds, water fountains, and group picnic sites, according to their website, so keep that in mind when you plan a Vasona visit. Town parks have reopened some sports equipment (such as tennis courts), and playgrounds, picnic tables, and BBQ areas are all open for use. The Town of Los Gatos is accepting picnic site reservations online again.

To keep track of what’s open and what’s changing in the Town of Los Gatos, check the Town Department Updates page, the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce Open Businesses page, or contact individual businesses for details.

Remember that the best practice is still to remain home as much as possible. When not possible, follow all safety protocols, wear a mask, stay physically distant, and wash your hands often.

Social distance hiking at Belgatos Park

In these days of staying home, I thought my fellow Los Gatans might enjoy photos of Belgatos Park taken this week. It’s our neighborhood park, so my family and I visit there often.

Coming in on the side at the Bacigalupi Connector, there is now a sign….

 

Sign at the Bacigalupi Connector in Belgatos Park advising visitors to stay 6 feet apart & practice social distance

 

The statement is a reminder to practice social distancing, to keep 6 feet apart from others during this shelter in place period due to the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Social distance hiking is allowed - sign reminding people to keep 6' apart

 

And just a few more photos from the day before along the Ridge Trail in Belgatos Park;

 

2020-03-26 Belgatos Park Trail 1

 

And a little further up the Ridge Trail

 

2020-03-26 Belgatos Park Trail 2

 

View of the water tanks, site still under construction

 

View of the water tanks and construction area just off the Ridge Trail at Belgatos Park

 

And a great shot of the valley below

 

Valley view from the Ridge Trail at Belagos Park in Los Gatos

Parks open, playgrounds closed

Today my family and I walked over to Belgatos Park (our usual haunt) and saw a number of people out on bikes or walking en route. We wondered if there would be kids in close proximity on the playground, but the answer is no – it’s cordoned off for public safety during the coronavirus “Shelter in Place”. Makes sense.

Belgatos Park playground closed Covid-19 - side view

 

The police tape prohibiting entrance to the playground comes with a sign about the closure.

 

Belgatos Park sign that playground is closed - coronavirus Shelter In Place

 

Please stay well, one and all!

Live Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area

There is a small pocket of Los Gatos with Los Gatos High School (Los Gatos schools) close to Ace Hardware and Live Oak Manor Park just off of Los Gatos-Almaden Road and Los Gatos Boulevard. It’s sometimes called the Live Oak Manor neighborhood. Some may call it the Carlton area, after the major street that runs through it. I have heard Realtors refer to it as “the Garcia tract” after the main builder in that neighborhood. For our purposes, I’ll call it the Live Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area to distinguish other parts of Carlton which have a different school district (Union School District) or are in the Cambrian area of San Jose.

Neighborhood map for Live Oak Manor and west Carlton area

Live Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area: location, location, location

This area is super convenient for commuters. It’s only about a half mile to the on ramp to Highway 17, and about 1 mile to Highway 85. If the freeway is backed up, it’s easy enough to get to alternate routes, such as Highway 9 or San Tomas Expressway. For those who work at Good Samaritan Hospital or one of the nearby medical offices, work is a short walk or bike ride away.

It’s not so close to downtown Los Gatos that it gets socked in with beach traffic on summer weekends. It’s easy to get to restaurants and shops along Los Gatos Boulevard, a short jaunt to the Los Gatos Creek Trail, and a quick trip to get to the JCC on Oka Road. Need groceries? Nob Hill is only a half mile away, as is the Los Gatos Cafe Uptown, Una Mas, and several other tempting destinations.

A huge plus, of course, are the highly regarded Los Gatos schools. This area is a little less expensive than nearby neighborhoods such as Blossom Manor to the south.

For many, being close to a neighborhood park is another important perk – a place to run the dogs, for kids to play, or just to get out of the house without needing a car.

Something else that should be noted is that this is a scenic pocket and most of the streets are tree lined, making it a pleasant place to be even if none of the neighborhood amenities are enjoyed.

Street view along Carlester Drive, Los Gatos, near Live Oak Manor Park

Read moreLive Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area

Belwood, Belgatos & Surmont neighborhood

Belwood Belgatos Surmont and nearby area mapJust west and south of the intersection of Blossom Hill Road and Harwood Road sits a neighborhood of Los Gatos homes with three subdivisions: Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos & Surmont. Nearby public landmarks are Belgatos Park and the Walgreen’s shopping center (corner of Blossom Hill and Harwood), with a Mountain Mike’s Pizza and a Starbucks coffee shop.

For many Los Gatans, all three of these east Los Gatos areas (and sometimes a broader one still) are generally referred to as “Belwood” or “Belwood-Belgatos.” (The Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police cert map identifies the whole region plus the Strathmore neighborhood, which is across Blossom Hill Road, as “Belwood” generally.)

The terrain is nearly level, with very low, gentle hills over most of the area. With winding, mostly tree-lined roads and tidy houses, it’s a very attractive neighborhood overall. For those looking for an arduous climb on foot or bike, though, Harwood Road provides a nice challenge. At the top, you’ll see a fantastic view of downtown San Jose and Silicon Valley for your trouble. (There are some challenges to be found in the open space trails, too.)

Belgatos Park and trails

Grassy fields at Belgatos Park Los GatosAt the middle of this community is the very inviting Belgatos Park, a scenic, setting which includes a playground near the parking lot, picnic areas, restrooms, trails into the hills (with some wonderful valley views), and access to the Heinz Open Space Preserve and its network of trails also. (And it’s not far to the Santa Rosa Open Space area either.)

One hill attracts kids who enjoy sliding down it on bits of cardboard, and thus has been nicknamed “cardboard hill” for decades. Most of the time these cardboard sledding enthusiasts are pretty good about picking up their “sledding vehicles” when done.

The paths are popular with people on foot, but also those on mountain bikes or horseback. As there are a few larger properties which are zoned for horses in the area, this is a very nice equestrian option.

Aerial view of Belwood of Los Gatos neighborhood 2016

For photographers, the park has abundant worthy subjects year round, both of the open space and the valley views below. In the early morning hours, or near sunset, you may see some deer too. But be careful: bobcats and mountain lions are in these hills also.

What are homes like in Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont?

Read moreBelwood, Belgatos & Surmont neighborhood