San Mateo Fall Festival opens for all to enjoy


Erik Cheng

The annual fall festival attracts a large and diverse crowd and further promotes San Mateo.

Laughter and loud music filled the air as families gathered at a local park for San Mateo’s Fall Festival.

On Saturday, Oct. 16, the San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department hosted the Fall Festival at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the festival was open for all families to enjoy booths and activities. Additionally, the festival supported a local taqueria and encouraged guests to enjoy the food. Around noon, the festival began family-oriented activities, including competitions and raffles for tickets for later trading for prizes.

“I’m here volunteering with the Youth Activities Council,” said Karen Young, a student at Hillsdale High School. “At the Fall Festival, I’m working alongside my team members to assist in a balloon game.”

Although the pandemic has been winding down, organizers Jen Wilson and Zach Radcliffe ensured staff and volunteers maintained a safe environment for everyone this year.

“We’re outdoors and spread out, and we’re also cleaning stuff throughout the day,” said Jayna Swami, a college student and an employee. “All of our staff are required to wear masks, and we are strongly encouraging them for attendees.”

In the past, the Parks and Recreation Department has organized similar events such as movie night. However, this event and their Dia de Los Muertos event are categorized as special events on their website

These events are heavily promoted beforehand on social media, which is responsible for a large portion of the audience. 

“I follow the San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department on Instagram,” said Anna Lazar, a teacher and mother of Hunor Lazar who discovered the event through social media. “We also went to Superhero Day and Music in the Park.”

During the event, Wilson heavily encouraged the parents to take photos and post on social media with hashtags, #smparksandrec, and #sanmateoca.

Kids of all ages enjoy the variety of games and prizes put together by the volunteers. (Erik Cheng)

Parents and kids alike enjoyed the food, environment, and games at the park. Even in the outdoor park, the majority of the participants wore masks and kept to themselves. Oylum Sava and Nadir Sava both attended with their young son Kemal.

“We used to live in Sunnyvale, and it was a bit isolated,” Nadir Sava said. “Here, it is more like people are getting together on weekends, you know, and parks are full, and a lot of children are more friendly.”

Furthermore, the volunteers showed their enjoyment and enthusiasm, dressing up with the kids and encouraging them to try out the other activities.

The Parks and Recreation Department plans to host Winter Wonderland at Central Park on Dec. 4. The department will host other special events on their website throughout the year with different themes depending on the season and popularity.

“I love being able to have free events like this for the community,” Swami said. “I think it’s a really nice way to give back to our families and kids around here.”