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Looking at the Century mark Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Dec 11 2010 12:00 PM

The city of Chula Vista will be 100 years old in January. Isn't that cause for celebration? The Chula Vista Committee of 100 thinks it is.

Since September, Mayor Cheryl Cox, Councilwoman Pamela Benssousan, residents, business owners, city staff and community leaders have worked on compiling information for the book "Chula Vista Centennial: A Century of People and Progress."

The first meeting kicked off centennial planning with collaboration from the community and produced 57 event ideas for the year-long celebration.

The 244-page, hard cover, full-color book contains the 100-year history of Chula Vista, beginning as the lemon capital of the world and maturing into the seventh fastest growing city in the United States.

It will be available beginning May 2011 and includes myriad images, stories and history.

"The centennial is about helping everybody understand that we all have a role in telling the stories of Chula Vista - and there are a lot to tell," Cox said. "We have members of the community who remember firsthand what it was like after the depression and WWII. Being able to hear the stories firsthand helps people learn from the past."

Throughout 2011, the city of Chula Vista will celebrate with events organized by and for the community to commemorate the history of its people and the city to create a lasting legacy.

The events are sponsored by community businesses, educational groups and nonprofit organizations in partnership with the centennial's Committee of 100.

Currently, the committee has 60 to 70 members who work on all aspects of the book, including arts and culture, education, environment, expo, health and sports, a historic home tour and marketing. Residents are welcome to join a committee at any time.

The centennial story is researched and written by acclaimed historian, retired University of San Diego history professor and Chula Vista resident Steven Schoenherr, who is working to get the book to the publisher by Feb. 1.

He is currently finishing work on chapter 7 of the book, which focuses on the city in the 1970s.

Schoenherr takes the reader decade-by-decade, bringing historical facts and individual recollections of the city's land and people to life. Through interviews with residents, business leaders, educators and local government officials, the book tells the legacy of Chula Vista's people and the city's progress.

"This is really exciting," Cox said. "Chula is coming up on a milestone."

Included in the book are full-color maps of the city's growth and neighborhoods, with more than 200 historic photos highlighting the city's development in industry, commerce, politics and culture in the Chula Vista community.

Mary Marcdante is the centennial committee manager and said being a part of the committee has been an honor. "It's been amazing because I've discovered how much the people of Chula Vista love their city," she said. "It's a real honor to work with people who are so committed -who recognize the value of the city."

According to Marcdante, more than 200 people have signed up to volunteer in various ways with the committee. "It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community to put on a centennial," she said.

The centennial events include a May concert and fun run, Chula Vista at the Padres in April, Chula Vista Elementary School District viral video awards in May, family reunion and fireworks for the Fourth of July, Harbor Days and an art show in September. All of these events lead up to the Founder's Day Expo on Oct. 16.

The expo will include live music featuring genres from each decade including turn-of-the-century ragtime and barbershop to the big band sounds of World War II and 1950s rock 'n' roll. Attendees will be encouraged to dress in clothing from their favorite decade.

Local clubs and businesses will also be invited to showcase the roles they played in creating modern Chula Vista, while schools and other organizations are encouraged to re-enact key events in city history. Food booths and exhibits will be open between Third Avenue and Garrett Avenue.

Cox said she expects the book to sell out of the first 5,000 copies so the committee can order more. Money from the book will go to the committee to assist with expenses for the expo and other events.

The city of Chula Vista was first incorporated Oct. 17, 1911, with a population of 550. It is San Diego County's second largest city with approximately 230,000 residents. It has 33,024 acres from the coastal shoreline in the west to the San Miguel Mountains in the east. Chula Vista has a nationally-recognized wildlife refuge and educational nature center, the Olympic training center, a historic downtown area, Knott's Soak City and OnStage Playhouse, all of which contribute to the city's attraction for families and businesses.

The event will also feature winning entries from centennial contests held throughout the year. One contest is the centennial photo contest sponsored by the Chula Vista Heritage Museum. It gives the public a chance to capture the essence of life in Chula Vista. Entries will be showcased and added to the Chula Vista Library's historic photos link on the library's Web site.

The book can be purchased online for $39.95. Gift certificates are also available for the holidays. Excerpts from the book and historical photos about the people and places of Chula Vista's history can be found on the centennial Web site at www.chulavista100.com.

"We welcome anyone from the community to join us in celebrating what we've created over the last 10 years," Marcdante said.


See related video by clicking here: Century.

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