By Mia Myklebust
February 17, 2012 (La Mesa)--Gold and blue balloons spotted the La Mesa Village Plaza this past Tuesday for the kick-off of the yearlong La Mesa Centennial celebration.
The crowd waited expectantly, cameras in hand, for a special blue Centennial trolley wrapped in historical photos. A band played old-time tunes as the trolley rolled into the station and the Centennial committee, along with Mayor Art Madrid and the City Council, disembarked.
“For 365 days, that trolley is going back and forth throughout the entire county advertising the centennial,” Mayor Madrid announced. The Mayor gave a brief account of the history of La Mesa and said that 100 years ago to the day, the first mayor of the city was selected.
Wade Douglas with the Flying A Committee spoke of La Mesa’s tinseltown history as home to a silent movie studio.
Hometown hero and NBA/NCAA basketball star Bill Walton, a Helix High School graduate, also returned to relish the celebration.
Later, William (Bill) Culver spoke about memories of his childhood in La Mesa. He reminisced about how wonderful it was to ride his bike down the streets of the town.
“La Mesa gave me a good start,” Culver said. “I’ve always been grateful how the city and community supported me in my youth.”
In 1957 the city buried a time capsule that was supposed to be opened at the city’s centennial. The key to the capsule was given to 11-year-old “Billy.” That boy is now Culver who has returned to the city for the centennial despite having lost the key, and the city being unable to find the time capsule.
Madrid presented Culver a key to the city during the city council meeting, which took place directly after the kickoff ceremony.
“It’s a small city so we have small keys,” joked Madrid.
Several longtime community members echoed Culver’s trip down memory lane.
Longtime La Mesan Pat Moran, said, “When I worked in a bakery in the ‘60s Art Madrid came in as a city councilman. Now he’s been mayor for years and years.” She recalled visiting a local candy shop and riding horses through town in her youth.
Former La Mesan Carol Jacobszon returned to visit for the centennial kick-off.
“I raised a lot of kids here,” Jacobszon said with a smile. She wore a commemorative medallion from the city’s 50th anniversary celebration, back in 1962.
Dow Jacobszon also came to enjoy the festivities and relive old memories. He used to work for a car dealership formerly located on La Mesa Boulevard. The Jacobszon family includes a former councilmember and Chamber of commerce leader.
Proclamations honoring the occasion were delivered during a Council meeting from the offices of Congressman Duncan Hunter, State Senator Joel Anderson, Assemblyman Brian Jones, and Supervisor Dianne Jacob at a council meeting.
Afterwards, the crowd adjourned for a party with refreshments and a beautifully decorated centennial cake with a bright blue “100” emblazoned across it. Historic photos of La Mesans a century ago, including a group shot taken on the day La Mesa became a city, enriched the occasion.
The day was a wonderful start to a year that is sure to be one of the most memorable in La Mesa’s rich history.
“This is a community event in every sense of the word,” said Madrid.
The next centennial event is the “Century of Smiles” which will be held this Saturday morning atop the parking at Grossmont Center at 7 a.m. The community is invited to join in a aerial photo for the Centennial, with residents spelling out “100.” Free T-shirts will be given out to the first 300 participants.