July 5, 2020
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RP Founders’ Day Oct. 6

  • Miniature doll beds were the winning prizes usually won by Fred Reed of Reed's Hair Barn. You may stop at the barbershop and check out all of the displays.

By: Irene Hilsendager
September 7, 2018

Yes, it is that time of year again for football, Labor Day and the upcoming 56th Anniversary of Rohnert Park’s Founders’ Day. There will be a parade, races and a musical festival. This event is a one- day free occurrence with plenty of fun things to do. 

“May the friendly force be with you” is their theme for 2018 and since Rohnert Park is known as the friendly city it all fits in like a puzzle.

There will be a 5K Fun Run and a two mile walk which will benefit the Middle School Athletics Booster Club (MSABC). The (costumed contest; optional) race will begin and end at the Rohnert Park Community Center, 5401 Snyder Ln.  Fruit and water will be waiting at the finish line for this untimed event. Each registered participant will receive an event t-shirt.

The traditional Founders’ Day themed parade will begin at 10 a.m. at Lawrence E. Jones Middle School, 5154 Snyder Ln, and travel south past the community center and end at Rancho Cotate High School. Come and see the floats, Rancho’s marching band, cars filled with Rohnert Park City Council members, dignitaries, specialty vehicles, community groups and more.

At the conclusion of the parade there will be live entertainment with Wonder Bread 5, The Rotten Tomatoes and Paulie’s Garage at the RP Community Center. A variety of food and beverages will be throughout the area with arts and crafts, activities for kids, a show and shine car show, a Mr. Lucky Legs contest and so much more.

A little back history for this small town 48 miles from San Francisco, Ca. Rohnert Park was incorporated in 1962 and along with it came many community activities. One such event was called Founders’ Day. A day which was festive with a parade, bed races, tricycle races and a lucky leg contest. 

The bed races have been sporadic, as some of the old timers no longer can push the beds down the street. The races were started in 1985 by some fellows at the local Chamber of Commerce who came up with the “bedlam” races. The rules were that each team had to provide their own bed on wheels. They were not to be powered by anything other than the people pushing the bed.

Each team consisted of one rider on the bed and up to four pushers. The race was run 100 yards on “Arlen Drive speedway” in front of the John Reed Elementary School. Teams would pair up and winner would run-off against the teams until there was a champion. Trophies were always given for “Best Decorated Bed” and “Race Winner.” The trophies were miniature decorated doll beds on a plaque. 

Some of the fun advertising phrases from the past pertaining to the bed races were. “Come and watch the bedlam,” “Join the Bedlam” and “Rohnert Park’s one-a-year drag strip.” 

After the bed races, all activities landed at Alicia Park where fun, food and camaraderie were a must for the residents of Rohnert Park. The festivities were the high light for the fall season. A new Miss Rohnert Park would be chosen with her attendees and beautiful ball gowns. There would be baking contests, Festival of the Ninth Moon Ball, wine tasting, art displays and just the time for the leaves to fall but still beautiful weather.