Save the Date: Paseo Opens May 20

Paseo gears up for opening day

Gilroy’s long-awaited Paseo needs a few more final touches and then all will be ready after years of waiting for the ribbon cutting that will turn the alleyway officially into the downtown’s newest “old” attraction.
Old, because the passageway from Monterey Street to parking lots off Eigleberry Street has been turned into a stroll through the city’s history.
Huge, free-standing placards with historic photos and stories include peeks at figures from business, labor and politics in the city’s past and display images of what used to make Gilroy tick—from the rodeo-like gymkhana parades to the hum of canneries that sent the city’s fruit to markets around the world.
And yes, included among the exhibits is an explanation of just how it was that Gilroy came to be synonymous with garlic.
Along the pictorial journey through history, many of the groups that helped shape today’s community are highlighted, including Native Americans, and European, Asian and Hispanic settlers, pioneers and leaders of commerce, industry and the civic life of Gilroy.
It’s a journey through the life and times of a once robust and thriving farming and ranching community that, since the last decades of the 20th Century, has transitioned into a fast-growing suburb that’s rich in history and known around the world for its famous annual Gilroy Garlic Festival.
“It has taken a small village of volunteers and great professionals over a period of three years to bring the project to completion,” said Joan Buchanan of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association, who has worked tirelessly with former Mayor Al Pinheiro and others to see the ambitious project to fruition.
Ribbon cutting ceremonies start at 9 a.m. on May 20 and will include many city leaders and folks who worked on and supported the project. They include donors who contributed $250 each and in return will see their names on nearly 250 bricks that will be a permanent part of the historic display.
“Everyone is invited,” Buchanan.
Indeed, there’s still time to have your own brick in the Paseo, too.
“We have space for 90,” Buchanan, said last week as some of the finishing landscaping touches were being put on the Paseo.
If you are interested in making a donation and having a brick in the Paseo, all the information can be found at the Gilroy Foundation website at, gilroyfoundation.org, and search for ‘Paseo,’ or contact Buchanan [email protected]
“This week, Karen Aiken [original designer] and the GB [Greg Bozzo] Landscaping team have been at work with the final landscaping components,” Buchanan said.
She added, “It has been very rewarding to help fulfil former Mayor’s Al Pinheiro’s vision and have such great community financial support via the sponsorships and brick sales. I’m sure the Paseo will be a part of “what makes Gilroy great.”
Construction of the Paseo, with a price tag of more than $1 million, required the purchase and demolition of an old, unreinforced masonry building to create the alleyway that leads from the city’s historic main shopping district, to the main downtown parking lots just behind the many shops that line Monterey Road.
As recently as the late 1970s, the downtown boasted its own drug and hardware stores, a JC Penney, a sprawling men’s and women’s clothing store, a cigar and newspaper shop and the headquarters of the Gilroy Dispatch, which was then replete with its own printing presses, where the Rio Nilo club now does business. The Dispatch office now is on Sixth Street next to the VFW hall.
The Paseo, in the meantime, is located between two very popular downtown shops.
One is 7455 Monterey Linda Williams’ quaint and colourful Nimble Thimble Quilt Shop, which is chock filled with everything imaginable for quilting and sewing. It gets five stars out of five on Google reviews.
And the other is Lazo Firearms and Consulting, a neat and tidy gun shop at 7451 Monterey Street that gets 4.9 out of five stars from Google reviewers.
The pleasant Paseo they now call neighbour was envisioned and spearheaded by former Mayor Al Pinheiro.
Pinheiro, with his wife, Vilma, own the Al Pinheiro Farmer’s Insurance agency and the Caravelle World Travel agency, both in Gilroy.
“I am very excited that this project is almost complete and will have its grand opening and ribbon cutting,” Pinheiro said in an email.
“It’s been a long time coming, however there were many challenges, finding material for the panels, designing, selling the bricks, landscaping and of course finding sponsors to finance the project,” he said, then gave a big thanks to Buchanan.
“Mrs. Joan Buchanan was the glue on all of this and she put in many hours making sure the project moved along,” the former mayor said.
He also gave nods of appreciation to Kat Filice at Articulate Solutions, who did the overall design work, and to Karen Aitken for the landscape design.
Whitney Pintello of Whitney Pintello Designs painted the murals on the walls.

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