Wind whipped. Rain sprinkled.
Noon was as dark as dusk, but Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg was undeterred as he and community members raked mulch at a Natomas park Saturday during a day-long marathon of volunteering. The events were part of inaugural festivities that will culminate in his swearing-in as mayor on Tuesday.
“It’s exactly the way I want to start my term as your mayor which is to see Sacramentans, even in the worst kind of weather, come on out here and volunteer,” he told a crowd gathered at Belle Cooledge Library in South Land Park beforehand.
At Garcia Bend Park in the Pocket, he made care packages for the homeless with Councilman Rick Jennings.
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Steinberg and Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, once rivals for the mayor’s seat, concentrated on the task at hand at North Natomas Regional Park: Distributing two giant piles of sweet-smelling bark around bushes and plants lining a walkway to baseball diamonds and a playground.
Steinberg’s wife Julie and Ashby’s toddler daughter Alia, whose nickname is “Peanut,” helped carry a heavy load on a tarp,while Steinberg and Ashby discussed ways to find more money for the city’s parks as they worked.
“Expectations for (Steinberg) are really high and there is no way for any one person to do it all, so we all need to help,” Ashby said. “What we are trying to do here is pass on the heart of Sacramento to our next generation.”
Many of the dozen or so volunteers were teenagers from the nearby Inderkum High School.
“A lot of us have played here in the past but now we’re moving up, and we want the kids that will be here now, that will follow in our footsteps, to have a good time,” said baseball player Kyle Coughlin, 14, who came with teammates to help out.
Steinberg becomes Sacramento’s 56th mayor on Tuesday after scoring a decisive victory against Ashby in the June primary. He is celebrating his inaugural with $200,000 worth of events, which began with the seven volunteer stops on Saturday. Bingo and lunch with seniors are scheduled at downtown Riverview Plaza on Sunday. His festivities end with a free party Tuesday at the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento.
Funds were raised by a private committee on behalf of Steinberg. That committee, called All About Sacramento, disclosed 43 major donors to The Sacramento Bee.
The largest chunk of the donations, $25,000, came from the State Building & Construction Trades Council. Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health each pledged $15,000. Five donors promised $10,000 each: SMUD; UC Davis Health System; law firm Hanson Bridgett; financial services provider Citi and vision benefit company VSP Global.