An Unforgettable Birthday Party

Citrus Height, CA (MPG)  |  By Elise Spleiss
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Girls just wanted to have fun! -- Photo by Dave Lawicka

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Pablo Cruise brought out the romance. -- Photo by Dave Lawicka

The City of Citrus Heights was prepared for the party of the decade on Saturday, June 3, and it delivered. Up to 8,000 men, women and children descended on Van Maren Park for a huge block party celebrating 20 years of incorporation. (The Van Maren’s, one of Citrus Heights founding families came to Citrus Heights in 1849.)

The venue chosen for this mammoth undertaking spread over nearly five acres in and around the park on Thalia Way, just a short walk from 10-month-old city hall.

At 3:00, as the temperature inched towards 90, the opening ceremony began in front of city hall with music from one of the city’s jewels, the Citrus Heights Community Marching Band (CHCMB), led by Kody Tickner. The band performed some of its ‘Fanfare for a New Era’ repertoire. The Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD) Color Guard presented colors and Paul Reyes, Commander of American Legion Post 637 led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Mesa Verde High School Choir and Band performed the National Anthem, with singer Jaden Neilsen hitting all those high notes with no effort!

Mayor Jeff Slowey greeted attendees and shared a short history of the city’s 12-year battle for cityhood.  He introduced city council members, Police Chief Ron Lawrence and other dignitaries including former Citrus Heights mayors, Roberta MacGlashan and Sue Frost. MacGlashan served on the first city council in 1997.  In November of 2016 Frost ran for the won the Sacramento County Supervisor’s seat from which MacGlashan was retiring after 12 years. Assemblyman Ken Cooley and former Congressman Doug Ose were also in attendance.

The party then moved into the park and its adjoining roadways. Visitors entering the park on one end of Stock Ranch Road were greeted by 40 vintage cars sponsored by the NorCal Cruisers car show, and a number of the 60 vendor booths.

Those entering from the opposite end of the park entered into the Kid’s Zone where kids could play on one of 4 bounce houses, scale the rock climbing wall or fly high with a modified bungee jumping experience, among other fun activities.

A band of Star Wars Stormtroopers guarded party goers while other characters entertained the children.

Visitors were impressed by the dozens of city programs and service organizations represented. Many, such as the police department, are always looking for volunteers.  More venders, craft booths and retail vendors of all kinds kept guests busy until the music started at 4:30. Refreshments from a beer garden sponsored by Stone’s Gambling Hall provided welcome relief from the heat.

The Boys of Summer, an Eagle’s Tribute Band played to the growing crowd until 6:00 when the crowd took a break before rocking to almost two hours of Pablo Cruise, a pop/rock band that had five Top 25 singles from 1973 to 1986. Following the concert, they visited with fans and signed autographs. In an interview, Cory Lorios, and founding band members said of the concert, “It was a perfect Pablo Cruise setting. It was nice and hot, almost too hot on the stage. But it was great, an awesome crowd. It couldn’t have been better. Production was good, sound was good. Everyone had a good time, that’s all we care about. We loved playing up here.”

An estimated 1,800 riders took advantage of three free shuttles provided by Regional Transit (RT) to get from and back to their cars at the end of the evening the day. The shuttles made continuous trips to the parking lots at Bayside Church, Costco and the Safeway shopping center on Greenback.

Most comments were rave reviews of the Block Party, such as, “It’s the greatest thing the City has ever put on.”  There were several suggestions for future events including having a longer event with more bands at a larger venue such as Rusch Park.  More shade and tents, and more water and food choices available were suggested. There were also calls for activities for teens.

Darlene Lyons, president of EzEvents, hired by the City to put on this huge event said in an email, “It was an honor to work with the City of Citrus Heights on this celebration. It truly took a team effort with police, fire, and city leadership to pull it off. We are very happy with the community feedback on the event and we feel it was a great success for the City of Citrus Heights.”

To view over 100 photos of the event, visit ‘Citrus Heights Block Party’ on Facebook.

Girls just wanted to have fun! 
-- Photo by Dave LawickaPablo Cruise brought out the romance. 
-- Photo by Dave LawickaDennis Roediger and Carol Mortensen of Citrus Heights pose with their 1971 Plymouth Roadrunner. Roediger said they came for the car show and found out ‘all the wonderful and different things in Citrus Heights.” 
-- Photo by Elise Spleiss