Tracing Tracy Territory: Festival ends, new holiday celebration takes shape
by Sam Matthews
Sep 21, 2012 | 2656 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Festival of Trees, a three-day holiday fundraising event for most of the past two decades, is history. The sponsoring Tracy Hospital Foundation has decided to call it quits and focus its fundraising and outreach efforts elsewhere.

Stuart Rogoff, the executive director of the foundation, said the organization,

which supports Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, is moving in different ways to engage more Tracy-area residents. The foundation is planning a Gala for Life on Jan. 24 at St. Bernard’s Holy Family Center to honor “Champions of Health,” Rogoff said.

But there will still be a holiday fundraiser this year. Dave and Pam Warta, who headed up the Festival of Trees for several years, are staging “Tracy’s Home for the Holidays,” a three-day holiday event that is independent of the hospital foundation and is scheduled Nov. 17 to 19 at the Portuguese Hall.

The Wartas, who have a developed quite a track record in successfully planning and managing public events, have scheduled activities beginning Saturday, Nov. 17, and continuing through Monday, Nov. 19.

It all begins with a senior breakfast on Saturday, followed that evening with a dinner-dance. On Sunday, a family breakfast, midday fashion show and evening “Family Night at the Movies” are planned.

On Saturday and Sunday, a holiday gift boutique and photos with Santa will augment the scheduled events.

Tracy’s Home for the Holidays concludes Monday with the annual senior Thanksgiving dinner.

The idea is to have a major holiday event for Tracy, and also to raise funds for local charities. Money generated by Tracy’s Home for the Holidays will be distributed to local nonprofits through the Tracy Sunrise Rotary Club Foundation.

It sounds like the event could be winner, especially with Dave and Pam in charge. At this stage, anyway, we can put down Nov. 17 to 19 on our holiday activity calendars.

‘The first day of school’

At their meeting last week, trustees of the Tracy Unified School District adopted a resolution recognizing that the first high school classes held in Tracy were beginning on the same date — Sept. 11 — a century ago.

Apparently, that’s as far as the school district is going to go in celebrating this year’s centennial of high school education in our town.

A move to name the new two-story classroom building replacing the original building at Tracy High after Joseph S. West as a way of observing the centennial never got off the ground.

That was because the board decided to name the building after Dr. James Franco, the present superintendent. I for one, endorse the naming of the building after Jim. What he has contributed to education in Tracy deserves all the recognition the district, and all of the Tracy area, can muster.

But along the way, I still feel something should be done to honor the contributions of Dr. West, known — and rightly so — as “the father of the high school.”

It was through his efforts as a leader of the Tracy Board of Trade that the West Side Union High School District was approved by voters of five elementary school districts in July 1912.

As he was a scholar and later a seller of books, naming the new Tracy High library after him would be fitting. And it shouldn’t matter that he served as a Confederate naval officer during the Civil War.

Because West’s other major accomplishment was pushing for the construction of a high school building, he could certainly be given a salute in 2017, the 100th birthday of the completion of that building. Apparently, school officials are considering a centennial celebration at that time.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at
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