ALAMEDA, Calif. - At sunset in Alameda, a Thanksgiving eve tradition reunites 40 childhood friends at Krusi Park.
From boys to men now in their 50s and 60s: This is an annual get-together spanning four decades
"We feel good that we can see each other. We all grew up within a mile of this park. We all grew up playing here as kids," said Steve Ratto who helped organize this event. .
The annual gathering was replaced by a Zoom call last year due to COVID concerns
"This meant a lot to a lot of people to finally come in and catch up here. There's a lot of history between a lot of people here," said Tim Goodman of Alameda.
Instead of an indoor sit-down dinner inside a hall as in past years, this event was held at the park's recreation center with an option for people to gather outdoors.
But most say the COVID vaccines have boosted their confidence in attending gatherings.
"My biggest fear was, before the vaccination being around people, masking up. But now, I feel very comfortable," said Goodman.
Kurt Cecconi's comfort level includes flying in from San Diego to attend this event.
"We're fully vaccinated, booster shots. all that. Good time to get together for the holidays," said Cecconi.
.At McGee's Sports Bar, co-owner Tracy Goodman said Thanksgiving eve was one of the busiest nights of the year before COVID.
On Wednesday night, it's still a popular gathering spot.
"A lot of people are in town to see their families. They want to get out and reunite with old friends," said Goodman.
Customer Alejandra Davila of Richmond said she's looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with friends.
"I'm going to be hanging around with 7 to 10 people, so still small and then I'm going to travel to Hawaii to see family," said Davila.
Back at Krusi Park, there was a mood of nostalgia and joy at seeing old friends.
"I always look forward to the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and getting up early Thanksgiving morning to watch them play football, " said Adrienne Alexander, a former Krusi Park director.
She shared with KTVU video of the last football game played on Thanksgiving before the pandemic.
But the traditional Thanksgiving morning football game won't taking place.
Organizers said with Covid still here, they're just not ready for that yet, but perhaps next Thanksgiving.