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The iconic Dancing Pig sign was unveiled with significant fanfare last Saturday at San Jose’s History Park — the temporary vacation home for the restored neon beauty while Google begins construction on its Downtown West project.

The hastily organized festivities were a true celebration of all things signs, with artists Tom Colla, Eddie Ramirez, Jorge “J Duh” Camacho, Ben Henderson and Suhita Shirodkar showing off their work.

Heather David, co-founder of the San Jose Signs Project, was there with the new, fifth anniversary edition of the project’s guidebook. There was even a stand selling old-fashioned hot dogs made with Stephen’s Meat franks.

The Stephen’s Meat Products “Dancing Pig” neon sign was re-lit during a celebration at History Park in San Jose on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo stopped by, and the guests included Linda Morrison, whose dad was Stephen’s Meat owner Stephen Pizzo. The 82-year-old Almaden resident was surrounded by her children and grandchildren as they watched the sign be re-lit after sundown.

And throughout the evening — which concluded with neon demonstrations by glass artist Kevin Chong at the Bay Area Glass Institute studio — one question kept popping up on people’s lips: Couldn’t the Dancing Pig sign just stay at History Park? It’s not a bad idea, given the park already has one historic neon sign on display, the Orchard Supply Hardware “arrow” sign, and has others in storage just waiting to be seen.

Linda Morrison, right, the daughter of Stephen’s Meat Products original owner Stephen Pizzo, poses with her daughter-in-law, Kim Morrison, left, and daughter Jeanne Whitaker, center, at the Dancing Pig sign party at History Park in San Jose on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

Google — which owns the sign — had it dismantled and transported to History Park to protect it from damage during construction of the Downtown West project. But when that’s over, the sign is supposed to return to a spot near the Montgomery Street location where it had stood for more than 70 years — outlasting even the meat company building it advertised.

A lot can change between now and whenever it’s safe for the sign to return downtown, but Google’s position is that the sign preserves a connection to the past for the Downtown West site. And, company reps say, having something that is part of San Jose’s history there is important when so much of the surrounding infrastructure will be brand new. (One hopes that point is remembered if demolishing or diminishing the historic Diridon Caltrain station becomes an issue.)

But for now, people can visit the Dancing Pig sign among the trees at the Kelley Park historical museum. There’s only one snag: It was re-lit using a generator for Saturday’s celebration; the sign itself is not yet connected to the park’s power system, so it’ll stay dark until that happens.

BLESSED RETURN FOR PALERMO’S: Diane and Renato Cusimano definitely felt the love as regulars returned to Palermo’s, the San Jose restaurant that reopened Tuesday after being closed for nearly three months following an arson fire. The Italian restaurant on Auzerais Avenue, already decked out for the holidays, saw a steady stream of customers for lunch and dinner on the first day back.

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And just in case they needed a little extra protection, the Rev. Peter Pabst, chancellor of Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School, sprinkled parts of the building with a vial of holy water he brought along to the dinner we had that night with Helen Marchese Owen and other friends. Every little bit helps.

HERE COMES YOU KNOW WHO: Santa Claus is arriving Nov. 25 at San Jose’s Eastridge Center, which is holding an indoor parade to welcome the jolly old elf. The 11 a.m. procession will go from JC Penney to the Center Court, where Santa and his photo elves will be stationed for the holiday season, and performers will include the Lokahi Polynesian Dance Group and the Eastside Youth Athletic Club Cheerleaders.

By the way, Eastridge’s Santa has been brushing up on his skills: He’s bilingual in English and Spanish and enjoys meeting furry friends, who can visit on special Pet Nights. He’s also trained for special sensory needs and will be at the mall at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings — Dec. 4, 11 and 18 — for anyone who wants a more sensory-friendly experience before the crowds arrive.

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San Jose Sharks | Flattened on road trip, San Jose Sharks season reaches a new low point

The San Jose Sharks lost a lot more games than they won over the first six weeks of the season. But in that time they could at least return home after two challenging four-game road trips feeling like their team was headed in the right direction.

That simply wasn’t the case after the Sharks finished their latest four-game road trip with a dismal 6-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Right now, after just one win in their last seven games, it feels like the Sharks (8-16-4) have reached a new low point in their season.

“They outcompeted us for a lot of the night, and that can’t happen,” Sharks forward Nick Bonino said Sunday of the Sabres. “That’s something that you can’t really say about us to this point in the year. It’s very rare for that to happen, and tonight things kind of got away from us.”

Three weeks ago the Sharks were riding a three-game win streak to help improve to 6-9-3 overall, putting them on a trajectory that would help erase an 0-5-0 start and perhaps even get back into the playoff picture.

That uptick included wins over the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 23 and the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 15 to close out a pair of road trips on a positive note.

Since the win over the Golden Knights, though, the Sharks have gone 2-7-1. After their 1-3-0 road trip, the Sharks entered Monday with a .357 points percentage – second-lowest in the NHL ahead of only the Anaheim Ducks’ .288 mark.

The Sharks’ goaltending has mostly been mediocre in this stretch and several skaters remain prone to catastrophic mistakes or turnovers. Timo Meier is now on a six-game goalless skid, and suddenly the Sharks can’t stop taking penalties, either through physical or mental mistakes.

And when the Sharks aren’t competing hard, as Bonino alluded to, they have no shot.

“We’ve just got to have more pushback in our game,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “I thought we had that for an extended period of time, but we’ve lost that along the way here and we’ve got to get back to playing like that.”

Sunday’s second period proved to be typical of the Sharks’ recent frustrations.

Leading 2-1, the Sharks gave up the game-tying goal just scored 16 seconds into the second period, as Sabres forward JJ Peterka took a stretch pass from Dylan Cozens and beat goalie Aaron Dell on a breakaway.

Just four minutes later, an ill-advised east-west pass from Luke Kunin to Radim Simek on a Sharks zone entry was poked away by Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju to Jeff Skinner. He cruised into the Sharks’ end and after Nick Cicek crashed into Dell, knocking them both down, Skinner fired into a mostly empty net for his 12th goal of the season.

Kunin’s pass is exactly the type of play the Sharks need to extricate from their game, but it was just the beginning,

Rasmus Dahlin ????????

— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 5, 2022

Just a couple minutes after Skinner’s goal, Sharks forward Matt Nieto took control of the puck, entered the Buffalo Sabres zone, and cut toward the middle of the ice to try and get past defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.

No such luck.

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Dahlin crouched down and put his shoulder into the body of the 5-11, 187-pound Nieto, laying a thunderous but clean hit that put the Sharks winger flat on his backside to the left of the Sabres net.

At that point, Quinn had seen enough.

During the next television timeout, with his team now trailing by a goal, Quinn called every Sharks player over to the bench for an impromptu heart-to-heart.

“I just thought they were out-everything us,” Quinn said of the meeting. “They were outskating us, they were out-hitting us, they were doing everything better than we were. At some point in time, you’ve got to say enough’s enough and there’s got to be pushback.”

Meier tried to exact some revenge on Dahlin a few minutes later, but Dahlin dodged the check, and Meier crashed into the boards.

San Jose’s next game is Wednesday at home against the Vancouver Canucks.

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“Take a step back, get home,” Bonino said. “Two back-to-backs on this road trip, get a little bit of sleep and get ready for Wednesday.”

For at least a portion of the Sharks’ fan base, the team’s dismal first third of the season has gone exactly as they’ve hoped. The more the losses pile up, the better the chance the Sharks will have of drafting a generational-type player next year to add to an already solid cadre of young prospects.

Quite frankly, who could blame them?

But if the last few games have shown anything, it’s that the Sharks are more than one player away from returning to relevancy. As bad as it is right now for the Sharks, it could still get a whole lot worse.

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