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San Ramon celebrates 150 years

1,000 residents show up to honor city's history, enjoy music and food

An estimated 1,000 people attended San Ramon's birthday bash. (Photo by Erika Alvero)

San Ramon celebrated its 150th birthday on Saturday at an event held at City Hall marked by music, dignitaries and cupcakes.

The city has been honoring its 150 years of existence for the entire year, but Sept. 9 was chosen as the official "birthday" because the date marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of a major community milestone -- the opening of the first permanent, two-room schoolhouse, located where Morgan's Masonry currently stands, near the intersection of San Ramon Valley Boulevard and Deerwood Road.

An estimated 1,000 people attended Saturday's birthday bash.

Mayor Bill Clarkson, a self-proclaimed history buff, expressed excitement with the "full house."

"A lot of people continue to be surprised that San Ramon has such a rich history," he said.

The celebration began at 11 a.m., when participants in the 1.5-mile Iron Horse Trail Walk arrived. After that, the opening ceremony took place, featuring a variety of guest speakers, from descendants of pioneer families to local government officials, including Clarkson, Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, State Sen. Steve Glazer and County Supervisor Candace Andersen.

A panel discussion on the official incorporation of San Ramon followed, as former mayors Pat Boom and Mary Lou Oliver, along with incorporation activists Joe Cavello and Mike Wahlig, recounted their efforts to form as a separate city.

"It was just a grassroots effort," Cavello said, as the four recalled canvassing the streets and speaking to residents. When residents approved the incorporation in 1983, Boom added, they received the highest percentage of residents voting for incorporation in the state of California at the time.

While the panel was going on, attendees perused historical documents and plans for the future at tables inside city hall, or enjoyed refreshments and music by the Olympia Fields Brass Band outside.

Locals Luanne Peters and Bob Hora came to the event in part because of deep roots in the region: Peters' great-grandfather Joe Peters was one of San Ramon's early settlers and ranchers.

"It's terrific," Peters said of the event. Her husband agreed, adding, "I hope to make it to the 200th celebration."

And considering the future himself, Mayor Clarkson has high hopes. "I think we're going to continue to build a wonderful city with an amazing community," he said.

Check out more photos from the 150th birthday bash on the DanvilleSanRamon.com Facebook page.

But the celebration isn't over yet, as there are still commemorative events taking place through December:

* The panel discussion on incorporation was the first of four in a "Celebrate San Ramon" lecture series. The following ones will take place at the beginning of the next three months, all held in the San Ramon Library at 7 p.m.: "San Ramon Fire Department: from Garage to Incorporation" will be held on Oct. 4; "Bishop Ranch -- a Ranch, a Business Park, a City Center!" will take place on Nov. 1; and "Travels To and Through San Ramon in 1867" on Dec. 6.

* San Ramon 150 "Culture in the Community" Celebration -- Oct. 15 from 12-5 p.m., San Ramon Community Center. The event will feature multicultural performances, booths, food, activities and fashion from across the globe.

* A five-part video series about San Ramon's history, local businesses and schools is in the process and accessible on the San Ramon 150 website.

* Residents are also invited to share their own personal tribute to San Ramon, by posting a "Why I Love San Ramon" online video story via YouTube or Vimeo.

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