|RP women recognize a ‘golden moment’
Wiltermood and Miller lead effort to run RP’s 50th anniversary party
Fiftieth anniversaries usually are something to celebrate, while 50th birthdays, for some, can be emotionally trying. And for some, 50 is just another number.
Robin Miller, a couple years ago, realized the 50th anniversary of Rohnert Park becoming an incorporated city was approaching. Much to her chagrin, she felt a sense of apathy in the community toward her city’s 50th anniversary, which is this Saturday (Sept. 15).
Rather than sitting idly by and letting the day pass without notice, Miller, the chairperson for the Rohnert Park Cultural Arts Commission, took action.
“When I found out there was a 50th and nobody was doing anything, I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Miller said. “And so, I talked to (RP Councilwoman) Gina Belforte and said I wanted to get it started. I talked to the city and we decided to put an organization together.”
Help is in the room
Miller didn’t have to look too far for help. In fact, all she had to do was look across the room at her place of employment, RE/MAX Pros, to find someone more than willing and able to help in co-worker Jennifer Wiltermood. Miller and Wiltermood are serving as co-chairs of the 50th anniversary celebration. Others who have put in lots of time on this event include Anne Mogel, Tina Montgomery, Paula Reinhold, Sandy Waterman and Phyllis Transue.
While Miller is relatively new to the city – she’s been in the city since 1998 – Wiltermood is Rohnert Park through and through. She grew up and attended schools in RP and currently has children in the school system. Moreover, her grandfather, Pete Callinan, was the first mayor and city manager of Rohnert Park. Her father, Tom Miller, also is heavily involved in the community through the Rotary Club.
“This celebration is very personal for me,” Wiltermood said. “I’m glad Robin decided it should be done because this has been a lot of fun. It’s been hard work, but it’s been fun.”
The all-day event begins at 10 a.m. with a parade from Lawrence Jones Middle School to Rancho Cotate High School. At 11:30 a.m., all the action will be at the Rohnert Park Community Center with a variety of live music, games, food vendors, a show and shine car show, contests and historical displays. The musical acts include rock bands Counterbalance, the Rotten Tomatoes, the Poyntlyss Sistars and Wonderbread 5. At dusk, the scene shifts back to Rancho Cotate High for a fireworks display at Cougar Stadium.
Celebrating all things RP
Miller sees this event as an opportunity for people to celebrate all things Rohnert Park. And in that vein, she is looking forward to the bed races.
“The one thing I wanted to have was the bed races because for me, that’s quintessential RP,” Miller said. “It’s a bedroom community, and why not celebrate who we are rather than trying to be something we’re not?”
Rohnert Park, besides Windsor, is the youngest city in Sonoma County and may not have as many steeped traditions as other cities, but Belforte couldn’t care less.
“Rohnert Park is my home, and we’re going to celebrate Rohnert Park,” Belforte said while judging the chili cook-off at Chili ‘n Wheels last Saturday. “I really don’t care what they have to say about it in Santa Rosa, Petaluma or Sebastopol. This is our celebration.”
Wiltermood said much of her childhood enjoyment while growing up in RP was attending baseball games at Rohnert Park/Crusher Stadium. The city was home to the Redwood Pioneers, a Minnesota Twins farm team, and the Sonoma County Crushers, a minor league team.
Games were gathering spots
“We always went to the Redwood Pioneer games or the Crusher games because it brought all the families together,” Wiltermood said.
It was noted to Wiltermood how RP – unlike other Sonoma County cities such as Cotati, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma and Sebastopol all have downtown areas – doesn’t really have a central gathering spot. She said attending baseball games filled that void. More than losing the baseball teams, both Wiltermood and Miller regret how the stadium was torn down.
“One of the biggest mistakes the city made was getting rid of the stadium,” Wiltermood said. “They should have saved the ballpark because we could have had another team. It also brought so many opportunities for different nonprofits. And there were so many events you could have had, like chili cook-offs.”
Sense of community
For Miller, living in Rohnert Park gives her the sense of community she has long sought. And the physical makeup of the city is to her liking.
“I love the fact there are all these walkways,” Miller said. “I run, and I like running up and down the creeks. I like it’s a small community, not a lot of traffic. The worst traffic is RPX and the bridge on Highway 101, and that’s minor. Plus, it’s a very friendly community. I get to know the people who run the businesses in my area and my community.”