Wearing a black top hat in vogue 150 years ago, Mayor John Suthers on Wednesday announced a long list of events and initiatives to celebrate the city’s sesquicentennial in 2021, encouraging residents and businesses to join in the celebrations.
City officials stood at Cascade Boulevard and Pikes Peak Avenue, in front of a marker that commemorates the first stake driven in Colorado Springs 148 years earlier. Rock Ledge Ranch participated, bringing 10 people dressed in 19th-century garb.
Suthers, City Council President Richard Skorman, AdAmAn President Dan Stuart and Pioneers Museum Director Matt Mayberry talked about the city’s history and their planned celebrations, asking community members to come up with ideas, too.
“We have a lot of ambitious goals over the next few years,” Mayberry said.
Suthers also launched the Beards and Bonnets Challenge. He asked all men of “facial hair growing age” to grow a beard and all women to make bonnets for the anniversary.
Skorman challenged community members to plant 18,071 trees by July 31, 2021, to commemorate the year the city was founded, 1871.
He said he hopes the trees will lower temperatures in the city, as its urban heat effect makes the city 2.5 degrees warmer on average than most Front Range cities. “Trees are the best solution,” Skorman said.
He also asked voters to let the city use $7 million in excess tax revenue to improve parks, many of them Palmer legacy parks, established by city founder Gen. William Jackson Palmer.
Palmer, Acacia, Antlers and Monument Valley parks all are considered “Palmer Parks,” Skorman said, though the $7 million could be used at any city parks.
Suthers told residents to “mark their calendars” for July 31, 2021, when the city will throw “quite a party” for the sesquicentennial.
The Pioneers Museum will have three new exhibits leading up to the celebrations. The first — Evidence: Finding the Facts About General William Jackson Palmer — will open Sept. 14, Mayberry said.
The city’s website will provide more information about how to get involved, with sign-ups for 15 volunteer-committees focusing on various parts of the celebration. Businesses also can register as official businesses of the sesquicentennial, Suthers said.
“Folks, let’s have some fun with this,” Suthers said, no longer wearing the top-hat. “After all, a sesquicentennial comes around only every 150 years.”