|Founders Day may be older than RP
So tell me, when was the first Founders Day? No one can pin down the date for cities don’t start honoring their founders until they’ve built an aura of urban discovery about their creation, and this process could take years. It has no measuring rod.
But I’m willing to bet that the little swimming pool A Section homeowners built on Arlen Drive, with the help of a city backhoe, could have started the process with neighborhood pool parties.
Of course, no one called it Founders Day.
This was in 1960, three years after the first homebuyers moved in and two years before the city was incorporated. John Reed School was soon built next to the pool, Alicia Park blossomed around the pool with young trees, kids’ playground, softball diamond and the Girl Scout Hut on Santa Alicia Drive. Playing major roles as organizers were Reba Roberts, Audrey Chaon (now living in Lake County as Audrey Chaon Powers) and Freida Camotta.
It took a few years for organizers to sense the founders, two attorneys named Paul Golis and Maurice Fredericks, should earn some recognition.
Later on, when Founders Day
‘Founders,’ see page 11
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festivities actually got underway, Alicia Park became the focal point with many information booths, beer, soda, hot dog and hamburger grills, wide sidewalks, bandstand for the Community Band and plenty of picnic tables and benches. It was the place to be the third weekend of every September.
(I didn’t get to Sonoma County until 1972, and it wasn’t until 1976 when I got acquainted with Marguerite Hahn and the public library on Collegeview Drive and then as editor with Paul Golis’ weekly tabloid, followed by The Clarion under Lyle Amlin and then The Community Voice, published by Yatin Shah.)
By this time, Founders Day was well established and the annual parade on Commerce Boulevard was the highlight of the weekend and the whole year. It was huge. Horse clubs in the area sent many decorated horses with colorfully costumed cowboys and cowgirls, local clubs like PTAs, Boy and Girl Scout troop members, church groups plus many shiny fire trucks and public safety cars, and of course, the event always had Miss Rohnert Park winners including Jo Ann, Janet and Rene, all daughters of Ron and Annie Rasmussen, Stephanie Bodi and many others were riding in convertibles waving to the crowds lining the sidewalks. The parades always had a crew of city council volunteers with dustpans and brooms cleaning up after the horses and exposed to ribald comments from the crowds. These days, apparently Commerce Boulevard as a parade route has too much urban traffic and parades have been moved to Snyder Lane over on the eastern side of town with thinner crowds on sidewalks. Maybe some day the city will bring it back to Commerce, for all they have to do is redirect through traffic east down Enterprise Drive to State Farm Drive and back to Commerce.
There’ll be more details on this 2013 edition of Founders Day arriving at The Community Voice and we’ll pass them along. The city council has already approved funding the upcoming event and a committee’s working out the plans.