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Best Old-School Civic Club 

Lake Merritt Breakfast Club

Only in Lakeside Park's Garden Center can civic-minded do-gooders peruse The Quacker newsletter, wear funny hats, and sing Broadway show tunes at 7 o'clock every Thursday morning while doing good for Children's Fairyland, the Necklace of Lights, and Lake Merritt. One of Oakland's oldest booster clubs, the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club is the fairy godmother of Fairyland and Lake Merritt. Joining is by invitation, but this straight-up altruistic bunch of patriots actively seeks new members. Many influential Alameda and Contra Costa movers and shakers have been known to attend at least occasionally, including the likes of Ignacio De La Fuente, Don Perata, and Jerry Brown. The swag for guest speakers is pretty good: breakfast, a coffee mug decorated with a duck, and prompt snail-mail delivery of a thank-you note with enclosed three-by-five photographs of the speaker in action — a perfect memento for treasured scrapbooks.

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