Ryan Chartrand

San Luis Obispo is turning 150 years old and the community is invited to join the celebration.

The grand finale of the yearlong sesquicentennial commemoration takes place tonight at Farmers’ Market.

“It’s a celebration and recognition of San Luis Obispo as a community,” Steering Committee member June McIvor said. “It is the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the city, which is sort of a technical term. It’s really symbolic of SLO coming together as a community.”

The festivities kick off at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Higuera and Chorro streets where the County Band is scheduled to perform. April Richardson, sesquicentennial event member, said the night opens with an introduction by Mayor Dave Romero in which he will introduce the City Council members and former mayors of the city in attendance. Typical Farmers’ Market events are to continue as usual.

“Farmers’ Market is a big part (of the city) in itself. Here’s a chance to come out and celebrate the community as a whole,” McIvor said.

The Madonna Inn donated a special, giant birthday cake for the celebration. Romero has the honor of cutting the cake, which McIvor said can feed 1,000 people.

Downtown Association Administrator Deborah Cash and local designer and Steering Committee member Pierre Rademaker will present 150 historic tidbits about the city in a “did you know?” format. The two will go back-and-forth in an entertaining manner to inform the crowd of their city’s history.

“Everybody just loves it. It is really entertaining how they correspond together,” said sesquicentennial event chair Kendi Root.

The city is rich in history since its incorporation in 1856. There will be areas set up with dedications and displays remembering the last 150 years.

“It (the event) has allowed community organizations to get involved and it drives tourism. We are all connected somehow and this gave people a reason to celebrate,” Root said.

Originally a small pueblo town, the city of San Luis Obispo has grown from a few houses in size to a population of approximately 44,176, according to the United States Census Bureau.

“We are so thankful of who we are and how far we’ve come as a community. We are the cultural hubbub of San Luis Obispo County. That has been inspirational in itself,” Root said.

The Steering Committee for the sesquicentennial celebration helped designate a different theme for each month from January through October.

The themes were intended to inform the community of the progress the city has made since its incorporation, and alert them of the upcoming sesquicentennial events.

Root said the Steering Committee was broken down into several subcommittees to help distribute the amount of work needed to make the event a success. The committee included a number of professionals from the downtown area, Root said.

The Native Sons of the Golden West will present Romero and Root with a plaque to commemorate the event at a luncheon on Oct. 21. The plaque will eventually be hung in City Hall.

“It is a great opportunity for people to celebrate their community and I think they should definitely come out,” McIvor said.

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