First Mare Island Fall festival showcases island's past, present
There was something for everyone during a Sunday festival that showcased Mare Island and what it has to offer.
The inaugural Mare Island Fall Festival was the result of a collaboration involving Touro University, Mare Island community, and the various nonprofit organizations on the island.
The multi-faceted event also featured a memorial to those lost on Mare Island-built submarines during World War II, tours, hikes, a golf tournament and even a plant sale.
One of the largest was a 5-kilometer race. In the past, the university held a separate 5-K that also serves as a fundraiser for local organizations. The Greater Vallejo Recreation District and the island-based Global Center For Success are this year's beneficiaries.
However, the seventh annual race Sunday became part of the larger fall festival, said Andrea Garcia, Touro University's director of external relations.
"This is more of a community event so folks can see what Mare Island offers," Garcia said. "Mare Island is a nugget in Vallejo that people often don't know about. There's a lot of history here."
Apart from the race, which was attended by about 125 people, the festival offered a selection of activities, most of them for free.
History buffs could join a guided tour of the Naval Cemetery in the southern part of the island, or attend a presentation and then join a tour of the historic Naval Hospital, now home of Touro University.
"In general, Americans live very much in the present," said Tom Snyder. "But history informs us what the future might be."
Snyder gave the presentation and led the tour of the hospital. He has combined his formal training and career as a physician with his interest in history, to delve into the naval hospitals' past, especially the one on Mare Island.
"This is the first one the Navy built on the West Coast... and like other historical things, it is tied to the much larger historical concept," Snyder said.
The building was first used, unofficially, as a 30-bed hospital facility in 1864, and opened officially as a naval hospital in 1871, he explained.
Now, Touro University uses six of the 13 buildings as part of its campus.
"Men who gave up limbs and their lives walked this ground," Snyder said. "We have the privilege to walk on the same ground. It is a privilege for me to give these tours. It's a powerful moment."
About an hour after the tour ended, about two dozen people attended a memorial service of the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the seven Mare Island-built submarines and their 575 crewmen during World War II.
The memorial service at Berth 10 was attended by the public, veterans, members of the Vallejo Police Department K-9 units, a number of Vallejo firefighters and members of the Pyro Division of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
The service included a historical presentation by Larry Maggini, prayers, ringing of a bell, and laying a wreath into the water in honor of those "who are on eternal patrol."
A Napa man who attended the service also spoke at the service to share his memories.
Allen Bullock said he worked at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for 40 years after serving in the U.S. Navy for about two years.
He said he helped launch USS Wahoo and USS Trigger, two of the lost submarines.
Other activities offered Sunday included self-guided walks on various trails, a golf tournament and an open house at the Global Center for Success and the Vallejo People's Garden.
Elvie DeLeon, executive director of the Global Center for Success, said she was excited about the new festival.
"It is a celebration of Mare Island," DeLeon said. "Anything that brings the community together and (to have) fun in the process is great."
The center provides free services that help those who are under served transition into the community.
The Vallejo People's Garden, the island community garden, also held a plant sale to raise money.
Garcia, of Touro University, said Sunday's event was just the beginning.
"We are gaining momentum for next year," she said.
Contact staff writer Irma Widjojo at (707) 553-6835 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @IrmaVTH.
U.S. Military veterans and members of the Pyro Division of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps toss a wreath into the Mare Island Strait during the Lost Boat Memorial Ceremony on Sunday.(Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
Copyright 2005 - 2019, Touro University, All Rights Reserved.