Out and About

By Jessica Laskey
June 2022

Cherry Blossom Park

Hanami Line celebrates Japanese American community

The Sacramento Tree Foundation recently announced plans for Hanami Line, a cherry blossom park along the Sacramento River at Robert T. Matsui Waterfront Park. The new venue is expected to open to the public in 2023.

This special gathering place will provide space to relax and play while celebrating the rich cultural contributions made by Japanese Americans to the Sacramento region.

The plan includes more than 100 Pink Flair ornamental cherry trees that will bloom each spring so visitors can enjoy the experience of hanami (“flower viewing” in Japanese). Sacramento’s Hanami Line also will be designed for year-round use ranging from meditation and yoga to food, art and music festivals.

A sculpture will be added overlooking Jibboom Street, with plans to showcase artists in permanent and pop-up displays. Beginning at the sculpture, the Matsuyama Dori (“walkway”) will head northwest through the park toward Sacramento’s sister city, Matsuyama, Japan.

Along the edge of the Matsuyama Dori, giant red Japanese parasol-inspired structures will provide shade and beauty. The park’s unique seating will include organically shaped concrete benches and modern live-edge wood benches milled and dried by the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s Urban Wood Rescue program.

To bring the 1.5-acre Hanami Line to life, the Sacramento Tree Foundation launched a capital campaign to raise $6.95 million and is already more than 90 percent of the way there thanks to philanthropic gifts from individuals, a $500,000 commitment from UC Davis Health, support from the city of Sacramento and a Caltrans Clean California grant. To donate or for more information, visit sactree.org/hanami.


If you and your little ones enjoy playing at Southside Park, you might notice there’s a new addition to the Universal Universe fully accessible playground. A We-Go-Round and music area are now available for kids of all abilities.

The new attractions are thanks to the Jonnie and Friends Reach for the Stars campaign, a fundraising effort founded by the Laver family in honor of their late son, Jonnie. After complications from meningitis confined Jonnie to a wheelchair, his parents, Marc and Linda, made it their mission to give him the best life possible. Marc became Jonnie’s fulltime caregiver and the entire family, including younger sister Carolyn, became advocates for accessible play at area playgrounds.

Jonnie loved Southside Park’s solar-system-themed Universal Universe playground, one of Northern California’s first fully accessible playgrounds that opened in 2005. The Lavers helped add even more accessible attractions and programming, like free inclusive play dates, through a partnership with the city of Sacramento and the nonprofit Gifts to Share, Inc.

Replacing worn equipment with fun, all-inclusive play structures and adding new programs and activities allows kids of all abilities to play together, make friends and reach for the stars. For more information and to donate, visit jonniesdreamplayground.com.


The Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance has launched a Food Insecurity Pilot Program aimed at lessening the pandemic’s impact on families getting the food they need.

Applications for CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program have grown year over year for those with low or fixed incomes, and the pandemic only made things worse.

The pilot program includes increased funding to the food bank, new food delivery services and partnerships with local nonprofits to ensure services are reaching those that need them most. The county Board of Supervisors approved $3,859,993 in American Rescue Plan Act revenue replacement funds and $250,000 in APRA funding to implement the program.

DHA is contracting with Family Meals Sacramento and NAACP for an initial one-year pilot. In the coming months, DHA will seek approval for two additional contracts for the food bank and meal delivery services. For more information, visit saccounty.gov.


Plans have been announced for the Lucchetti Anderson Heart and Vascular Institute, a new world-class, patient-centered cardiovascular institute at Dignity Health Mercy General Hospital.

The project is made possible in large part by a generous $3 million lead gift from the Lucchetti and Anderson families, former cardiac-care patients at Dignity Health. A philanthropic campaign to raise an additional $3.2 million is ongoing, with a goal to complete the project by 2023.


The Sacramento Metro Chamber has launched an in-house MetroBusiness Center to serve the greater Sacramento region. The center offers guidance, direction and resources to small and mid-size businesses, including specialized educational opportunities and individualized consulting.

“After navigating the continuing series of challenges over the course of the last two years, we have a very clear picture of the ‘points of pain’ our small businesses were facing during the pandemic,” says Amanda Blackwood, Metro Chamber’s president and CEO. “The launch of the center will build upon our proven ability to make the critical difference in their success.”

For more information, visit metrobusinesscenter.org.


With the state entering a third drought year, local water providers are partnering with the Sacramento Tree Foundation to help residents take special care of trees while reducing landscape watering.

Lawns can recover from drought stress, but trees will die outright. Even mature trees need supplemental water in dry months. During the 2016 drought, satellite imagery revealed a clear loss of tree canopy in the Sacramento region. It will take decades to replace those trees.

Residents and business owners can protect trees by testing soil moisture using a moisture meter or poking a long screwdriver into dirt beneath the tree canopy. If it comes out dry, it’s time to water.

Water by delivering a slow, deep drink to trees, allowing water to seep six to eight inches below the soil surface. For trees more than 5 years old, give trees a soak using a soaker hose or drip irrigation at the furthest reaches of the canopy—but stop if water runs onto the pavement or into the gutter. Wait an hour for the water to soak into the soil and start again.

For young trees, water two to three times a week, five gallons at a time. Try the “bucket method” by drilling a small hole about an inch up the side from the bottom of a five-gallon bucket, fill with water and leave it to drain into the tree’s root zone.

Add a six-inch layer of woodchip mulch around the base of each tree (keeping the mulch four inches away from the trunk), as far out as the tree canopy. This helps reduce the temperature around the tree and holds in soil moisture.

For more information, visit bewatersmart.info/trees and sactree.com/water.


As of July 1, all Sacramento city and county residents must dispose of food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste in the organic waste container (currently the yard/green waste container).

This change is in accordance with California Senate Bill 1383, a new climate-action law to keep food scraps and yard waste out of the landfill. Methane emissions resulting from decomposing organic waste in landfills are a significant source of greenhouse gas, which contributes to global climate change. Californians throw away nearly 6 million tons of food scraps each year, accounting for 15 percent to 20 percent of all landfilled material.

Organic waste includes food waste—such as fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, meat and bones—and food-soiled paper, including pizza boxes, coffee filters and paper napkins. 

Once collected, the organic waste will be processed into nutrient-rich compost and then sold to agricultural users. For
more information, visit sacorganics.org.


More than 400 volunteers removed 13,450 pounds of trash and debris from the American River Parkway during this year’s Spring Clean-Up. That’s more than 33 pounds per volunteer!

Spring Clean-Up, the American River Parkway Foundation’s second-largest clean-up of the year, took place at eight locations: Discovery Park, Northgate Parkway Access, Cal Expo Parkway Access, Northrop Parkway Access, Howe Avenue River Access, Watt Avenue River Access, River Bend Park and the Upper Sunrise Recreation Area.

The foundation also hosts year-round small-group clean-ups and the annual Great American River Clean-Up along all 23 miles of the parkway. This year’s event will be Sept. 17. For more information, visit arpf.org.


The lobby of the California State Railroad Museum is getting a refresh. A multi-phase renovation project is now underway to allow for better flow and signage, as well as new visual elements and space for special events and gatherings.

The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of the year and the full project by the end of 2024. The museum will be open during renovation. For more information, visit californiarailroad.museum.


The Sacramento History Museum on the Old Sacramento Waterfront has launched a new season of walking tours.

The Old Sacramento Underground Tour, available seven days a week, takes guests on an unforgettable journey underneath the city to uncover facts and legends from 150 years ago. Explore excavated foundations, enclosed pathways and archaeology exhibits while hearing sounds of 1860 street life and tales of California’s only successful street-raising project. Tour tickets are $22 for adults, $15 for kids 6–17, and free for children 5 and younger.

In the Gold Fever! Game, played on the weekends, participants take on personas of historical characters from the Gold Rush as they meander through the historic district and discover if they successfully escape floods, fires and disease. Will they keep their gold dust or lose it all at the gambling table? Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for kids 6–17, and free for children 5 and younger.

Tours launch from the newly relocated Sacramento Visitors Center at 1000 2nd St. All tour tickets include complimentary admission to the Sacramento History Museum. For more information, visit sachistorymuseum.org.


The Downtown Sacramento Partnership has launched a free Sip & Shop Wine Walk on the last Wednesday of each month from 4–7 p.m. along the Old Sacramento Waterfront.

Start your self-guided experience at Warehouse Creative at 116 K St. to pick up a passport map. Each participating store will have complimentary local and regional wines to enjoy while shopping.

Shoppers receive a passport stamp with every purchase, which counts as an extra entry into the prize drawing at Warehouse Creative at the end of the evening. For more information, visit oldsacramento.com.


Midtown Parks has announced a new season of health and wellness classes and summer activities.

Fresh Air: Fremont Park offers a series of free health and wellness classes, including yoga, Pilates and boot camp, Monday through Friday through Sept. 30.

Wednesdays at Winn has weekly summertime activities through Oct. 29 that include an outdoor workout series every Wednesday, wine tastings sponsored by the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, and special soccer training activities for children with Street Soccer USA sponsored by Sutter Health.

For class schedules and more information, visit midtownparks.org.


The Downtown Sacramento Partnership is hosting Bodega Days in partnership with Mexican restaurant La Cosecha every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Plaza through Oct. 27.

A variety of local vendors, including artists, crafters, farmers and chefs, offer a diverse assortment of goods accompanied by live music and culinary attractions.

“In line with our centrally located space in the heart of Downtown, the vision for La Cosecha has always been to bring people together and give them a connection to the community, a closeness to art, music, farmers and each other,” says La Cosecha owner Ernesto Delgado.

“This new Bodega Days concept extends and elevates the vision to give the community yet another reason to experience what makes our Downtown so special and unique.”

For more information, visit godowntownsac.com.


The Midtown Farmers Market is expanding to accommodate nearly 200 farmers, growers and vendor booths—its footprint will soon extend south from L Street to Capitol Avenue. Now in its ninth year, the thriving open-air market is open year-round on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (hours change based on time of year).

Look for new weekly activities, as well as the three Street Food Sacramento 2022 grant award recipients: Chido’s Restaurant & Bar (traditional seafood dishes from Southern Mexico), Mak & Grille (authentic lu Mien cuisine and small-batch bottled hot sauces) and Steady Smokin’ BBQ (classic barbecue cuisine and specialty items).

Downtown’s popular Certified Farmers Market has returned for the spring/summer season. The market is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 6th Street and Capitol Mall through Sept. 28.

More than 25 vendors sell locally sourced fruits, vegetables, baked goods, flowers, herbs and cheeses. The market also features Chefs’ Priority Pick-Up, a program that directly connects farmers to chefs, and al fresco dining options by Sacramento’s most popular food vendors and rotating food trucks.

For more information, visit midtownfarmersmarketsac.com and godowntownsac.com.


The Sacramento SPCA’s Summer Camp Kindness returns for eight full weeks beginning June 6. Students ages 7–9, 10–12 and 13–15 visit the shelter to learn about animal welfare, safety, training and care. For more information, visit sspca.org/camp.

The SSPCA also offers birthday “pawties” for children ages 7–16. During the 90-minute festivities, guests are treated to a shelter tour, craft or service project and a shelter animal meet-and-greet. Other celebrations are also welcome. For more information, visit sspca.org/birthday.

Tales for Tails, the SSPCA’s new reading program for children, will launch this fall. Children in grades K–2 can visit the shelter with an adult to read to the animals, which helps improve reading and socialization skills, and strengthens the human-animal bond. For more information, visit sspca.org/education.

The SSPCA’s 29th Annual Doggy Dash brought in a record-breaking $223,000 this year. Proceeds will help provide care to the many homeless companion animals in our community. For more information, visit sspca.org/dash.


Sacramento’s own ABC10 has been recognized with several regional and national awards in honor of its investigative reports and in-depth storytelling.

“FIRE – POWER – MONEY: Holding PG&E Accountable,” an investigative series about the deadliest wildfire in California’s history, the 2018 Camp Fire, by ABC10 reporter Brandon Rittiman, took The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and a Peabody Award Nomination.

“FIRE – POWER – MONEY: Season Two” received an RTDNA National Edward R. Murrow Award. An RTDNA Region 2 Edward R. Murrow Award was presented for “Modesto’s Blind Bowler” and “FIRE – POWER – MONEY,” and eight NATAS SF/NorCal Regional Emmy Awards.

A James Madison Freedom of Information Award was given for the “Price of Care: Investigating California Conservatorships,” an investigative series by ABC10 reporter Andie Judson that focused on the state’s complex conservatorship system.

“We have nurtured a newsroom culture centered on tackling complicated topics, sharing impactful ‘deep dive’ stories with important context and holding the powerful accountable,” says Risa Omega, ABC10 president and general manager.


At Ease Brewing Company—a craft brewery in Midtown founded by retired Army Colonel Mike Conrad—has won the first of two Small Business Showcase partnership packages sponsored by Sacramento Republic FC and Citizens Business Bank.

“Due to our loyal customers, we were able to survive what we hope was the worst of the COVID pandemic,” Conrad says. “As first winners of the 2022 Small Business Showcase, we believe this award will assist us in getting to the next level and provide more opportunities to grow our business and support our Sacramento community and the dozens of nonprofits that we have worked with these past three years.”

At Ease Brewing Company was selected from a pool of nearly 50 applicants of locally owned and operated small businesses. Through the partnership, At Ease will be introduced to Republic FC fans through game-day tastings, summer-watch parties and limited-edition merchandise, including pint glasses.

The second Small Business Showcase will launch July 11. For more information, visit sacrepublicfc.com/small-business-showcase.


A Seat at the Table Books, a family-owned bookstore, café and community hub in Elk Grove, has won the ABC10 “We Stand For You” Business of the Month award for April.

After starting as a pop-up in January 2020, A Seat at the Table Books opened its physical store in November 2021. Co-owner Emily Autenrieth wanted to create a space that’s more than a traditional bookstore.

“Winning this award means the world to us because it speaks to the power of our mission and community work as a new business that opened during the pandemic,” Autenrieth says.

In addition to reading and story-time activities, the bookstore offers school fundraisers, Dungeons & Dragons nights, LEGO and doodle clubs, teen council leadership building activities, family movie nights and more.

The store also hosts Poetry Nights and Rising Stars Speaker Series to help elevate marginalized voices, and administers Free Books for First Graders, a program designed to get books into the hands of all 3,900 first-graders in the Elk Grove Unified School District. For more information, visit aseatatthetablebooks.org.


Pranavkrishna Bharanidharan, an eighth grader from Orangevale, has won the 2022 Middle School Individual Player National Championship Tournament organized by National Academic Quiz Tournaments.

The quiz bowl-style, buzzer-based academic competition tests all areas of knowledge, including history, geography, math, literature, science, fine arts, current events, popular culture and sports. California Montessori Project student Bharanidharan won this year’s championship held in Chicago and ranked first in geography in the individual subject category.

“It’s a dream come true to win the nationals! I’m incredibly happy with my performance,” says Bharanidharan, who came in third last year. “It is a culmination of a lot of hard work and preparation.”


Arden-Arcade eighth grader Alessandra “Lexi” Mauricio has been busy. The 14-year-old was recently awarded first prize in biology and health sciences at the Sacramento Regional STEM Fair and the Science Achievement Award from the California Association of Professional Scientists.

That same week, she won first prize in the literature event at the National Catholic Academic Junior High Decathlon, which came on the heels of winning first prize at the Diocese of Sacramento Schools level a few weeks earlier. She also received an honorable mention award out of 1,000 participants at the statewide California Science & Engineering Fair.

At age 12, Mauricio became the youngest presenter at a professional medical conference for a paper she published in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology. Mauricio is now preparing for Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s premier middle school STEM competition, as well as a future career as a pediatric surgeon.

“Alessandra is always mindful that whatever she does, she is representing her school and Sacramento,” says her father, Dennis Mauricio, an obstetrics and gynecology doctor. “With all these, she remains kind, gentle, respectful, pleasant and humble.”

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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