by Chris De
January 19, 2006
— THE TENT IS UP. The tickets are sold out.
And Fremont is ready to kick up its heels.
gala Friday at Central Park will kick off a
nearly yearlong slate of events in
celebration of the city's 50th birthday.
anniversary commemoration will culminate in
a free-admission main event Sept. 9 and 10,
which will be partly funded with proceeds
from Friday's $175-a-ticket gala, event
co-chair Fran Stone said.
attendees will be taking part in one of the
city's historical moments, gala co-chair
Maria Rogers said, adding: "We've waited 50
years forthis special evening."
"We feel our
town has evolved from those five townships
that were spread out, and now we are one
with a diverse community," Stone said. "We
do have pride (in Fremont), and we're happy
to be a part of it."
which is black tie optional, will be held
under a spacious carpeted tent with a
French-door entry and a cathedral ceiling,
organizers said. Although rain and cloudy
skies have threatened all week as finishing
touches were done on the tent, the National
Weather Service forecast for Friday night
calls for dry skies.
The event is a
way to thank major donors who have
contributed to the celebration, Vice Mayor
Steve Cho said. "It is also engaging the
community to participate in the occasion,"
anniversary events are scheduled in the
coming week, including a free open house
from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday — also in the
tent at Central Park, where Mayor Bob
Wasserman will preside over the cutting of
the city's anniversary cake. Later that
night, the City Council will hold a special
midnight meeting that will begin at 12:01
a.m. Tuesday to commemorate the city's first
City Council meeting, held at the same time
Jan. 23, 1956, almost exactly 50 years ago.
"I'm not sure
any business will be conducted — it wouldn't
really be fair to people because it's really
not convenient (for people to come)," Cho
"It's more of
a symbolic representation of celebrating and
kicking off the (city's) next half-century."
O'Donnell, 81, said he moved to his Fremont
home in 1954, back when his section of town
was called Centerville and there seemingly
were more cauliflower fields and orchards
than people. Homes could be bought for
little more than $10,000 back then, and the
city's population in the mid-1950s barely
topped 5,000, O'Donnell recalls.
who also was born in 1956, like his native
hometown, wrote in an e-mail to The Argus
this week that he has very fond memories of
growing up in Fremont.
"I still miss
the days of my youth in the Warm Springs and
Mission San Jose districts," wrote Brown,
who now lives in the South Bay. "I consider
myself fortunate to have grown up along with
"I doubt even
the wisest and most clairvoyant of the city
planners could have predicted how far those
small towns would progress in the next 50
Chris De Benedetti can be reached at (510)