Hayward history and Family fun at Kennedy Park


June 14, 2016

Kennedy Park train station on a sunny day

The Kennedy Express chugs along the tracks in Hayward’s Kennedy Park as children wait eagerly at the cottage-style station for the little locomotive. The electric-powered train, painted in bright red, yellow and blue, travels around the park and takes about five minutes to complete its round-trip journey. As soon as the weather turns warm, families with young children visit this community park to enjoy its amusing and affordable activities like a ride on the Kennedy Express.

Children can also ride a fanciful steed on the merry-go-round built in 1955 by Arrow Development Co., which made carousels for small amusement parks in the Bay Area. In the 1950s, Walt Disney also hired company founders Ed Morgan, Karl Bacon, Angus Anderson and Bill Hardiman to design and build rides for Disneyland. They included the King Arthur Carrousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Snow White’s Scary Adventure. Later, their projects included the Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, Alice in Wonderland and Haunted Mansion rides.

Kennedy Park’s large lawn area, plentiful shade and several picnic areas with built-in barbecues make it a popular spot for birthday parties and family gatherings. There’s a playground with two large play structures containing slides and swings, and the park also features the Triple Pines Ranch, a small animal farm with a rustic red barn and an outdoor enclosure where children can see chickens, ducks, pygmy goats, sheep and other barnyard animals.

To learn a bit of local history, stop by the McConaghy House next to Kennedy Park. A native of County Antrim, Ireland, Neal McConaghy built this two-story Stick Eastlake farmhouse in 1888. Now a museum, it also contains a water tower and carriage house on the grounds.

Upcoming events at the McConaghy House include:

“(If These Walls Could Talk) Gadgets Galore: What the Heck Is This?” at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 18. This event teaches visitors about the household tools and equipment used when the McConaghys lived here. Proceeds benefit the McConaghy House ($15 by advance ticket purchase.)

Kennedy Park, 19501 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward. 510.881.6700.

The merry-go-round, Triple Pines Ranch and train cost $2 per single ticket or $5 for three tickets. Other discount packages are available. Purchase tickets at the snack bar. The rides and Triple Pines Ranch are open 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekends, holidays and school vacations, weather permitting.

McConaghy House, 18701 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward.

11 a.m.-4 p.m. the first weekend of every month. Tours are at the beginning of each hour. Last tour at 3 p.m. Admission is free to $5. The McConaghy House is not wheelchair accessible. 510.581.0223. 

Stephanie Wright Hession's original article in SFGATE.

*Stephanie Wright Hession is an arts, culture and travel writer and photographer. Instagram: @stephaniewrighthession Blog: