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Walnut Creek Magazine


Dec 31, 2020 12:44PM ● By Pam Kessler


From the pandemic, wildfires, and social unrest to racial justice protests, lockdowns, and economic hardship, we documented this momentous year with local photography. As we take stock of 2020 and all the events that transpired, it’s a new year, and with the vaccine slowly rolling out, there’s a light at the end of the long tunnel. 

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January 2020:  The new year kicks off with the grand opening of Residence Inn by Marriott, the first new hotel to open in Walnut Creek in decades. By March, nonessential recreational and business travel had come to a halt, severely impacting the hospitality industry. 
March 16, 2020: Empty city streets at 5:48 pm in Walnut Creek as the first Bay Area shelter-in-place order goes into effect to stop the spread of COVID-19. The first issued in the United States, the initial orders were expected to last only three weeks. 
March 18, 2020: Walnut Creek restaurants expand takeout operations and adapt business models during the shutdown. 
March 25, 2020: Social distancing six-feet apart becomes the new normal. 
April 2020: A teacher holds her first online session with students as schools across the Bay Area pivot to virtual learning on Zoom. Ten months later, most public schools remain closed for in-person learning. 
April 2020: Local boutique windows, like this one at Labels, display fashionable ways to wear face coverings, recommended by healthcare officials to stop the airborne spread of COVID-19. 
April 2020: Local restaurants, like Sunrise Bistro, support the efforts of frontline healthcare workers at Bay Area hospitals by delivering hundreds of healthy meals. 
May 7, 2020: Neiman Marcus files for bankruptcy protection. As part of its reorganization strategy, the high-end retailer announces store closures including Walnut Creek by mid-January 2021.
May 22, 2020: As the lockdown lingers on, senior living communities such as Heritage Downtown, get creative and provide residents with in-suite concierge food and beverage services to maintain covid-free environments.  
May 30, 2020, 3:00 pm: An employee at the Broadway Plaza Apple store boards up windows in anticipation of racial injustice protests due to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
May 31, 2020, 5:00 pm: Over 600 rioters ravage Broadway Plaza on a Sunday evening crime spree. Multiple stores damaged and merchandise stolen. Curfew imposed in the City of Walnut Creek. 
June 1, 2020: Black Lives Matter protesters gather in Walnut Creek's Civic Park then march through city streets during a George Floyd Solidarity Demonstration against police brutality and systemic racism. 
June 1, 2020: Protesters on I-680 freeway are confronted by police with tear gas.
June 2, 2020: Downtown businesses board-up storefront windows to prevent vandalism and memorialize George Floyd.
June 2, 2020: Demonstrators gather around Taun Hall in Civic Park to honor the one-year anniversary of the death of her son Miles Hall, a young man shot by Walnut Creek Police during a mental health episode.
June 5, 2020: Walnut Creek Police line city streets near Civic Park during a peaceful protest in honor of George Floyd. 
June 5, 2020: Close to three months after the initial shelter-in-place orders were issued, Contra Costa County public health officials allow restaurants to reopen in Walnut Creek with socially distanced outdoor dining. City streets become the summer's hot spot.
June 16, 2020: Volunteer artists transform boarded windows at Neiman Marcus with messages of hope, peace, and love. 
June 17, 2020: Hair salons and barbershops reopen with strict protocols.
July 6, 2020: Walnut Creek's legendary Italian restaurant, Prima, closes its doors. Another local iconic spot, Scott's Seafood, closes forever in August, as restaurants across the Bay Area struggle to survive under strict outdoor operating guidelines. 
August 2020: Stylists at Caroline's Salon in Lafayette cut hair outside in blistering summer temperatures after another round of shutdowns are announced. 
August 2020: A local firefighter battles wildfires in Santa Cruz mountains caused by extreme climate conditions and a rare lightning storm that touches off a series of destructive events across Northern California. 
September 9, 2020: An eerie orange sky blankets the Bay Area caused by wildfires blazing across the region.
September 11, 2020: Smoke cloaks the air at Rossmoor's Creekside Golf Course. The Bay Area sets a record for 30 consecutive spare the air days reaching some of the most dangerous particle readings since record-keeping began in 1999. 
September 29, 2020: Firefighters battle the Glass Fire in the Napa Valley Wine Country as the Northern California firestorm rages on leaving massive destruction behind it. 
October 2020: Bay Area artists transform downtown Walnut Creek walls into colorful works of art. 
November 2020: Bobcats, coyotes, and other local wildlife make more and more frequent appearances in Walnut Creek backyards and neighborhoods posing a danger to domestic pets.
December 2020: Viamonte Senior Living opens at The Orchards in Walnut Creek. The stunning new development boasts 200 units, creative cuisine, and a plethora of activities for seniors.
December 2020: Santa Claus spotted near Walnut Creek's Downtown Library during a remarkably quiet holiday season due to shutdowns. 
December 30, 2020: The year ends on a sad note for fans of Lafayette's El Charro. The seventy-plus-year-old Mexican eatery abruptly announced plans to close at the end of 2020. 

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