Community Columns

Help parks sparkle with May 11 Gala in Graceada

Let’s save our city parks, the parks right here in Modesto.

I live in the College Area and Graceada Park is my park. It’s also one of Modesto’s oldest, centrally located, and well-used parks in Stanislaus County. Not only did I grow up in Modesto and am dedicated to its improvement, I am a mother. I have a 2-year-old son and I love taking him to the park, especially now with the green grass, the flowering trees and the crisp air. Those are the impressions I hope he is gaining from our trips to the park.

The reality is that I am also pushing his stroller past a drunk man who is collapsed on a park bench, maneuvering around hypodermic needles, wiping off play equipment with diaper wipes due to the dried urine on the slide, scolding other adults about smoking (tobacco or marijuana) adjacent to play equipment, constantly keeping an eye on my stroller, wishing that guy would stop blasting his inappropriate music …

Wanting better for our park, neighborhood and community, a group of us banded together and developed the concept of Gala in Graceada at 6 p.m. on May 11. It will be a beautiful night in the park, where we raise funds to continue park improvements.

We are building off of 2018’s success with the overhaul of the pool and splash pad by the Barber family and replacement of the tot lot by Leadership Modesto.

The more families, neighbors and community members who use the park, the more unwanted behaviors are discouraged. If you have doubts, look at the splash pad and pool. Last summer, those tables and benches were fought over by moms who had sought this location for their child’s birthday party. Before the renovations, those benches were occupied by people who have no business being around children’s play equipment.

Funds from this year’s Gala in Graceada will be used to launch Sundays in Graceada, and secondly, for facility improvements in Enslen Park.

Sundays in Graceada will provide free programs for Modesto children, families and neighbors. The city will open the pool on Sundays. Studio V and Core Fitness will offer a fitness component every Sunday morning. Volunteer hosts will offer yet another element of fun; check for details.

Boy Scout Clubhouse renovations by Simile Construction are under review by the city of Modesto. The scope of work will depend on funds generated from Gala in Graceada. The primary goal is to create a community plaza in front of the structure. If enough funds are raised, a secondary goal would be to improve the facility itself to create a truly amazing indoor-outdoor entertaining space.

Every year we hope to improve a different aspect of either Graceada or Enslen Park.

People keep asking what this event is exactly. It’s a ticketed, beautiful event that features a three-course meal, live music and a silent auction. There will be special moments and details throughout the night.

Collins Electrical will light things up with a web of twinkle lights. Blades & Bottles will pour drinks; be sure to try some specialty cocktails they hatched up just for this evening. And Final Cut Media will capture the evening so that others later may experience the essence of Gala in Graceada.

We simply could not put on this high-caliber May 11 production if it were not for the generosity of our community pillars — businesses like Greens on Tenth, Tresetti’s World Caffe and Ann Endsley’s The Event Collection, which will fill Graceada with wooden bars, farm-style tables and all the finishes.

Please come support this noble cause. Ticket ($150 per person) and table sales ($1,200 for reserved table of eight) are available through Eventbrite. This event is hosted by the College Area Neighborhood Alliance. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, see our website, or send email to

Julie Scherer is chairwoman of Gala in Graceada. She wrote this for The Modesto Bee.

Author: Julie Scherer, Chair of Gala in Graceada