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Pleasanton Turning 125

by Jeremy Walsh / Pleasanton Weekly

The Pleasanton City Council is joined by Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (center) and representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and State Sen. Steve Glazer at council ceremony in June. (Photo by John A. Benson Photography)

Downtown is set for the party of the century (plus a quarter).

Pleasanton's 125th Anniversary Celebration -- in honor of the quasquicentennial of the city's incorporation -- will kick off at 3 p.m. this Friday, highlighted by a "Happy Birthday" sing-along and cake-cutting at 5 p.m., the unveiling of the Museum on Main's new exhibits on local history, and Public Eye rocking an extra long set for a special Concert in the Park in the evening.

"Having spent most my life in Pleasanton and seeing how much this community has grown over the years, I think this is the perfect time for our community to gather and celebrate our wonderful hometown," said Laura Olson, the outgoing executive director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association (PDA), which spearheaded organizing Friday's anniversary party.

"Our hope is that lifelong residents and new residents alike can come together and experience the true character of Pleasanton," Olson added.

The downtown celebration, set to run from 3-9 p.m. at Lions Wayside and Delucchi parks and surrounding streets, will culminate a summer of celebration in honor of the city's 125th anniversary.

The Pleasanton City Council got the fun started on June 18 -- the actual anniversary of the city's date of incorporation, June 18, 1894 -- with a special recognition ceremony.

The scores of audience members in the council chamber heard a historical overview of the incorporation process from city recreation coordinator Mark Duncanson and remarks with commendations from Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and representatives on behalf of Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, State Sen. Steve Glazer and U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Pleasanton teen musician Lauryn Hedges also gave a live performance of her original song "Our Home," a four-minute ode written in honor of the 125th anniversary whose harmony and lyrics embody her adoration for her hometown -- and echo the sentiments expressed by many residents reflecting on the city's milestone. Hedges' chorus encapsulates:

In Pleasanton

What a place to live

Oh, Pleasanton

It's where my heart is

Isn't the name so fitting?

For this place that we've seen grow

Now let's celebrate our home

Our home (hey!)

Now let's celebrate our home

Our home (hey!)


An original "Our Home" music video, complete with modern footage and historic images from around Pleasanton, is available on the city's website and on YouTube.

The city coordinated a series of special activities throughout the summer to recognize the anniversary.

This year's Pleasanton Public Library Summer Reading Game program, which wraps up with carnival-style games and activities outside the library Friday and Saturday, has been themed "Reading Through the Years: Pleasanton Celebrates 125!"

The Firehouse Arts Center held "Coffee with the Curator" on June 25, an art demonstration with Heather Martin on July 10 and the new "Play Date Art Exhibition" opened this Thursday.

The activities continue even Friday, with the Pleasanton Senior Center presenting an anniversary social with games and refreshments from 12:30-2 p.m.

Also in the anniversary spirit, the downtown Museum on Main is reopening Friday after being closed since mid-June for building repairs and renovations to its permanent history gallery space in preparations for its new permanent exhibit, "Growing Pleasanton."

Representing the first facelift for the museum's permanent gallery space in nearly 20 years, "Growing Pleasanton" focuses on better ways to tell the stories and history of the community while allowing greater access to the collection's 3-D objects, images and archives, according to executive director Jim DeMersman.

A new temporary exhibit, "Pleasanton at 125," which also opens Friday at 10 a.m., aims to spotlight the city's evolution since incorporation-era issues like dusty streets and stray livestock to more modern topics such as balancing rapid development with a high quality of life, DeMersman said.

The Pleasanton Police Department has even gotten in on the act, recreating historic city police photographs with modern officers and posting the images in a "then-and-now" format on social media.

But all of the special activities of the summer have served to lead up to Friday's 125th Anniversary Celebration, the marquee community event of the year for the city and PDA.

"Every day I have the privilege of representing a community I have called home for the last 43 years -- a place where I raised my family and seen this city grow into the community of character it is Friday," Mayor Jerry Thorne told the Weekly.

"The 125th Anniversary Celebration on Aug. 2 is a wonderful opportunity for all those who appreciate Pleasanton to come together to honor our 125 years of history and celebrate our future," he added. "It promises to be a spectacular time, and I encourage all to join in celebrating our first 125 years."

The downtown celebration will run from 3-9 p.m. Friday, free for anyone to attend. Highlights include live entertainment, face painting, cornhole games with Pleasanton city staff and special discounts on to-go orders from participating downtown restaurants, according to the PDA.

Thorne and fellow City Council members will lead a "Happy Birthday" sing-along at 5 p.m., followed by cutting of the large birthday cake -- with slices available for the first 500 guests. The first 1,000 people can receive a Meadowlark Dairy treat in a signature 125th anniversary cup.

Since the 125th Anniversary Celebration coincides with the PDA's weekly Concert in the Park, high-energy rock group Public Eye (a popular draw each year at the summer concert series) will play a longer set Friday night, from 5:30-9 p.m., for concert-goers watching in Lions Wayside and Delucchi parks.

"The entire community is invited as we celebrate the history, heritage and hometown spirit of our incredible city," said Tiffany Cadrette, the PDA's incoming executive director. "We are honored to provide an opportunity for lifelong residents to come celebrate the city they know and love, while inviting our newer residents to come and discover more about this special place we all call home."

Friday night's PDA showcase seeks to offer a festive commemoration for the whole Pleasanton community, but the celebration will also come with mixed emotions for Olson, who is stepping down as PDA executive director this weekend after nine years at the helm to relocate with her family from her hometown to Alabama.

Reflecting on her time in Pleasanton, Olson told the Weekly, "I used to ride my bike downtown, I walked home from Amador along Main Street, my first job out of college was on Main Street ... this place is part of who I am and I'm so grateful for my years in downtown."

"As the economic development director for the city of Pleasanton, my mom was actively involved in the Centennial Celebration 25 years ago, so it feels very fitting that my last event in my position with the PDA is celebrating this next milestone for Pleasanton," she added.