Celebrating a century for Central Park

San Mateo’s Central Park commemorates 100 years since its opening to the public


Hailee Byun

Attendees of the celebration enjoyed participating in a game of cornhole, one of the many games that were available at the event.

Hundreds of San Mateo residents came together in celebration of the 100th anniversary of San Mateo’s Central Park. 

Organized by the City of San Mateo, the event offered various activities, such as dunking city officials in water, a puppet show, ordering free ice cream, and field games, all accompanied by live music played by the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra reminiscent of the 1920s. 

Danny Eshel, a service member of the U.S. Army, was visiting San Mateo for the weekend.

“There are police here, soldiers here, firefighters, and I think the services and information that everyone is providing is super awesome and brings the community together even more,” Eshel said. 

The event contributed to a larger citywide sentiment of togetherness following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since the pandemic’s start, outdoor spaces like parks have seen a sharp increase in users. Now more than ever, parks are being utilized for the amenities they provide to citizens and the natural elements they bring to an otherwise urbanized city.

Joanne Magrini, the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of San Mateo, stresses the importance of parks in the community.

“Since the start of the pandemic, gathering at parks has helped to boost both people’s mental and physical well-being and bring them together,” Magrini said. 

In addition to maintaining current aspects of the park, Magrini shared exciting plans in progress to further improve the space. Frequent parkgoers attended the event and shared their excitement and appreciation for the park. 

Bob Palacio, the Community Services Manager for San Mateo, comes to the park nearly every day and attended the event to celebrate his appreciation of the park.

“Central Park is the heart of San Mateo. It’s a big beautiful park. People come here and have a great time. It feels established and a great part of the community,” Palacio said. “I think it’s fabulous. Just seems like a great community event.”

Many families and residents of San Mateo came together to attend the event to celebrate the park. People enjoyed the diverse range of activities during the celebration and were in high spirits, laughing with each other and freely dancing to the live music in the field adjacent to the live jazz.

San Mateo purchased the 16.3-acre site for $80,000 after a vote of the people in 1922. Over the past 100 years, Central Park has become a landmark location in and surrounding the city of San Mateo, hosting numerous community events and providing an open space with unique components like a children’s train ride and a Japanese garden. 

The park is set to undergo phase one of its master plan update, which includes a Fallen Heroes Memorial for the fallen line of duty members of the San Mateo community and a playground renovation set to break ground in 2023. 

“This momentous occasion highlights the City of San Mateo’s ongoing mission to bring people, parks, and programs together to create community, connect people, and keep them positive and healthy,” Magrini said.