Four decades of officials pay homage to Santa Paula’s centennial

April 26, 2002
Santa Paula News

Former mayors and council members stretching over the decades were on hand at a special City Council Joint Centennial Reunion held Monday at the Community Center.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesFormer mayors and council members stretching over the decades were on hand at a special City Council Joint Centennial Reunion held Monday at the Community Center.April 22 officially marked the 100th anniversary of the City of Santa Paula incorporation and the room - ringed with American flags and patriotic red, white and blue decorations as well as incorporation documents and photos circa 1902 - was top heavy with elected leaders of years past as well as those appointed to the various boards and commissions.Refreshments were provided by Hozy’s Santa Paula Grill and Crystal Bakery, which provided the birthday cake that marked the evening’s centennial celebration.On hand were were officials representing four decades: Carl Barringer, Joe Bravo (the city’s first Latino mayor in 1968), Jim McCoy, Al Escoto, John Melton, Eleanor Crouch (first woman mayor 1978), Jim Garfield, Al Urias and Kay Wilson-Bolton, all former mayors. “I served on the City Council 24 years, eight months, two days and 23 minutes,” said Melton. They were joined by present Mayor Ray Luna, Vice Mayor Laura Flores Espinosa, and Council members Rick Cook, Don Johnson and John Procter.Bravo noted that although he has traveled the world, Santa Paula remains the most beautiful place he has ever seen. McCoy said that it was during his and Barringer’s terms that the Highway 126 widening project was begun and the Community Center created.
Supervisor Kathy Long was also present, noting “I’ve had such great fun sharing this with you, a celebration of Santa Paula’s wonderful heritage. . .congratulations,” to the city’s present and past leadership as well as the strong, diverse community.Mitch Stone presented a history of Santa Paula: “You could say it’s the 100th anniversary or the 127th birthday,” of the city founded in 1875. “Or the 159th [when the rancho was formed] or the 1,000th birthday,” of the area’s Chumash villages of Sisar and Mupu. All early settlers “Left us with a legacy as large as we could hope for,” Stone noted.Nathan Blanchard, “Saw a future for Santa Paula,” said Elizabeth Blanchard of her grandfather-in-law, the city’s founding father, who although discouraged by his orange orchards lack of growth, hung on until they produced fruit seven years later. It was a serendipitous event: at the same time the trees produced, Southern Pacific Railroad introduced ice on its cars. “The oranges were shipped back east and Santa Paula was made,” noted Blanchard.Johnson said several circa 1902 laws are still on the books, including banning sidewalks for recreational purposes and a dog census.Mayor Luna led a sparkling cider toast to the city’s centennial, noting that “everyone has played a part in building Santa Paula. . .”

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