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Citrus Heights celebrates 20 years of cityhood with massive block party, music

Block party
Vendor booths and classic cars lined up along Stock Ranch Road as part of Citrus Heights’ 20th birthday celebration on June 3. // CH Sentinel

Thousands of residents, community members, vendors and dignitaries packed Van Maren Park and a closed-off section of Stock Ranch Road near city hall on Saturday for a block party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Citrus Heights becoming a city.

A classic car show took up a section of Stock Ranch Road, followed by a long line of vendor booths and a beer garden set up in Van Maren Park — along with a live music stage that featured performances by the Boys of Summer Eagles Tribute Band and 1970’s pop-rock band Pablo Cruise. Food trucks and a kids zone were also set up at the end of Stock Ranch Road, with entertainment for kids featuring a popular go-cart style racing loop, four large inflatables, a rock climbing wall, and a reverse bungee jumping station.

“I loved it,” said Alexis Babb, who attended the block party with her family. “A lot of activities with kids, meeting new people in the neighborhood. I’ve never been to a block party before — it was great.”

The 25-year-old said she moved to Citrus Heights just three months ago and has found the city “better than I thought,” with friendly people.

Festivities kicked off at 3 p.m. outside city hall with some introductory tunes from the Citrus Heights Marching Band and Mayor Jeff Slowey sharing a few historical highlights from the founding of Citrus Heights 20 years ago.

“Today is the official celebration of the 20 years of Citrus Heights cityhood,” the mayor told a crowd of early attendees, mostly lined up in shaded areas in front of city hall to avoid the heat. “Back on Nov. 5, 1996, that was an election day, the citizens of this community decided that we should become a city and here we are 20 years later.”

He said Citrus Heights technically became a city on Jan. 1, 1997, but due to the fiscal year not beginning until July 1, “they operated for six months with no money, no budget.” He recalled some of the council members may have written some personal checks during the city’s initial few months.

Dignitaries present included Roberta MacGlashan, who was one of the original five council members, along with former congressman Doug Ose, Assemblyman Ken Cooley, Supervisor Sue Frost and the entire current city council.

Bill Van Duker, who is credited with keeping the cityhood effort alive in the 1990’s, was also seen perusing through the sea of vendor booths lined up on Stock Ranch Road.

“I had no idea whatsoever that the city would become what is has,” said Van Duker. “It has far exceeded my wildest dreams.”

Van Duker and a small group of business and community members helped keep a group called the Citrus Heights Incorporation Project active in the 80’s and 90’s, seeking more local control through cityhood.

Specific reasons given for incorporation included a desire for “increased land use controls and public services” as the area’s population grew, according to historical records on Growing problems with auto theft, burglaries and vandalism, and a limited number of sheriff’s deputies patrolling the area were also a key issue.

After a long fight and legal battles with Sacramento County, cityhood finally won the day with 62 percent of residents voting in favor of incorporation in November 1996. Previously, Citrus Heights was an unincorporated part of Sacramento County, like Orangevale and Antelope are today.

Saturday’s celebration of cityhood was attended by 5-6,000 people, according to a police estimate provided by Sgt. Jason Baldwin.

Citrus Heights, Pablo Cruise
Crowds gathered at Van Maren Park on Saturday to hear Pablo Cruise rock out some tunes on stage. // CH Sentinel





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