Best Alternatives To Shopping On Black Friday In The South Bay

November 11, 2013 4:00 AM

The holiday shopping season may start the day after Thanksgiving, but there are other ways to celebrate Black Friday that don’t involve the mall. Avoid the teeming crowds, and maybe even save some cash, by choosing one of these non-shopping activities on November 29. We’ve got things to do for dancers, do-gooders and the whole family in the South Bay.

Village Harvest
Locations around the South Bay
(888) 378-4841

Village Harvest is a South Bay nonprofit with a unique mission: to make available the extra fruit found on Bay Area fruit trees to the needy and hungry. In 2012, Village Harvest harvested over 200,000 pounds of fruit that went to needy people. Volunteer groups will pick a variety of fruit throughout the year, from large orchards to small collections of neighborhood trees. The collected food is donated to Bay Area food banks and food pantries, with volunteers able to keep some overripe fruit for themselves. It’s a great way to keep food from going to waste, get some exercise in the open air and work together with a team. Some picking opportunities are open to groups with small children so the whole family can get involved. Harvest events are being scheduled for the weekend of Thanksgiving, including possible events on November 27. Check the Village Harvest website at for updated details.

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(credit: Harvest Festival)

Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show
San Jose Convention Center
150 W. San Carlos St.
San Jose, CA 95113
(415) 477-3205

Date: Nov. 29, 2013 – Dec. 1, 2013

The Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show in San Jose may offer shopping opportunities, but it also includes lots of other things to do. An interactive KidZone with hands-on crafts is open to the whole family, and some of the exhibiting artisans, like wood carver Susan Lake, will be demonstrating their skills. The Cash Tribute Band will be playing the hits of the Man in Black during the festival, joining several other musical acts. In addition, Scott Land, an expert marionette performer, will be giving shows throughout the weekend. The festival is held at the San Jose Convention Center, and its Friday hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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(credit: Forever Tango)

Friday Tango
Cheryl Burke Dance Studio
1400 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 864-9150

Date: Nov. 29, 2013 at 9 p.m

Thanksgiving is almost always a gluttonous holiday. If you missed the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, a 5k held on Thanksgiving morning, but still want to do something active on Black Friday, why not try some dancing? Argentine Tango may sound imposing, but it’s fun to learn, and there is a robust Bay Area community dedicated to the dance. Tango Mango serves up several learn-to-tango options on Friday, November 29, 2013, including a drop-in tango event in Mountain View which includes several learning levels.

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Christmas in the Park
Plaza de Cesar Chavez
S. Market St.
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 297-9627

Date: Nov. 29, 2013 – Jan. 1, 2014 from 9 a.m. to Midnight

The holiday season hasn’t properly begun until Christmas in the Park opens in downtown San Jose. Situated in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, the festival will be the 34th annual event this year. The holiday festivities at Christmas in the Park will include animatronic holiday displays, an opportunity to visit with Santa and a chance to get family portraits taken in a themed sleigh. Both food vendors and souvenir vendors will be on site if you are in the mood to indulge a little. Food options will include fresh homemade churros, hot dogs, hot chocolate, gourmet coffee and Filipino and Mediterranean foods. Live entertainment will be held daily on the entertainment stage. Christmas in the Park opens the day after Thanksgiving, November 29. An opening night tree lightning ceremony will be held at 6 pm, including the arrival of Santa Claus to the park. Admission is free.

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Downtown Ice
Circle of Palms
127 S. Market St.
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 291-0525

Date: Nov. 15, 2013 – Jan. 12, 2014

Located next door to the Christmas Festival is a skating wonderland for the whole family. Downtown Ice, in its fourth season, is sponsored this year by Hawaiian Airlines and Kristi Yamaguchi. Located in the Circle of Palms, it’s the South Bay’s biggest outdoor skating rink, and is open from November to January each year. In 2013, Downtown Ice is scheduled to open on November 15 and stay open until January 12. On Black Friday, November 27, Downtown Ice will be open for extra hours, from 12 noon to 12 midnight. Admission is $15 ($13 for children under 10), which includes skate rental.

Laura Tarwater-Scharp is a freelance writer, editor and historian. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over a decade. Her work can be found at