Updated Friday Dec 16 at 12:45 p.m.
Assemblywoman fundraiser held Thursday night, but she kept an ultra low profile at the event.
So low, in fact, that visitors attending the fifth annual Jingle Tails food drive left without nary a sighting.
According to her staff members, Hayashi (D-Hayward) was there amid the families and holiday lights, walking about meeting and greeting guests.
Patch staffers never saw her despite waiting for several hours past the zoo's main entrance, where zoo officials said she was expected.
Her office sent an e-mail out Friday thanking those who attended and made food donations at the event. Included was a picture of her posing with a family in front of the zoo's entrance.
Doors opened for the event at 5:30 p.m. Families got in free if they brought the invitations Hayashi mailed to San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, Castro Valley, Pleasanton and several unincorporated Alameda County communities.
The event was Hayashi's first official public appearance since being arrested at a Neiman Marcus store in San Francisco in October and charged with felony shoplifting. In fact, she hasn't so far.
Her staff members stood by the zoo entrance and passed out coloring books to kids and collected nonperishable food donations for the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
District Director Christopher Parman said this year's Jingle Tails event was by far the most successful.
"Record year in attendance; record year in food donations," he said.
He estimated nearly 2,000 pounds of food was donated by the hundreds of families that attended.
A zoo staff member standing by the entrance told guests Hayashi was expected to arrive between 5:30 and 7 p.m. and would stop by the nearby flamingo area.
Last year, Hayashi met with guests at the zoo's Marian Zimmer Auditorium inside the Maddie’s Center for Science & Environmental Education.
Parman told Patch that Hayashi arrived at the zoo a little after 6 p.m. She walked around to meet with guests then left close to 7 p.m.
Castro Valley resident Gayle Travis attended specifically to meet Hayashi and ask her a legislative-related question. The invitation stated Hayashi would be available to discuss "legislative issues."
After standing by the flamingo area throughout the evening, Travis never got a chance to meet her representative.
"I'm a bit disappointed," she said. "I wish I had heard when she arrived."
The 45-year-old assemblywoman from Hayward against her. She is accused of taking a pair of leather pants, a black leather skirt and a white blouse worth $2,445. She was released on $15,000 bail.
Parman would not comment on Hayashi's case. Her lawyer has called her arrest "a misunderstanding."
Travis said she still supports Hayashi despite the charge against her.
"I don't support shoplifting, but I'm very open-minded and she's done many good deeds that certainly outweigh the negatives," she said.