By Chris Kenrick
In a rare public appearance, businessman and philanthropist John Arrillaga on Thursday thanked the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce for honoring him with its annual Golden Acorn Award.
"Menlo's been a great spot in my heart because I played (basketball) at the Burgess gym starting in 1960," Mr. Arrillaga told an assembled audience at the Stanford Park Hotel. "I probably scored more points in that gym than any player in its history because I retired at almost age 60."
Mr. Arrillaga is the major private donor to the city's new Arrillaga Family Gymnasium, which will hold its grand opening Oct. 16, as well as to the planned Menlo Park Gymnastics Center.
A basketball player at Stanford University in the 1950s, Mr. Arrillaga has been an active player and coach in Burgess Gym basketball programs for 30 years.
He is a major donor to Stanford University and was listed by Forbes in March as among the "World's Billionaires 2010."
He and his partner Richard Peery are major landowners and landlords in Silicon Valley.
Mr. Arrillaga headlined the awards list in the Chamber's 38th annual awards banquet.
Other honorees were:
● JobTrain (formerly OICW), a 45-year-old nonprofit that last year assisted 6,900 people through job-skills training and placement.
● Music@Menlo, an eight-year-old summer chamber music festival at Menlo School, which is preparing to launch its first winter program.
● The Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation, which this year awarded $114,000 in college scholarships to graduates from Menlo-Atherton, Sacred Heart, Menlo School, Eastside Prep and the East Palo Alto Academy.
● Tarlton Properties Inc., which converted what was described as "swampland" east of U.S. 101 into a successful business park.