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January 21, 2014 > Celebrating 60 years of strength and independence

Celebrating 60 years of strength and independence

By Jessica Nol Flohr

The history of the City of Milpitas extends far beyond its 60 years of incorporation. Like much of the Bay Area, Milpitas was originally home to Ohlone people. Native American artifacts have been found beneath the soil of local cities many times. In the 1700s, Spanish missionaries arrived and began to settle in the area, establishing several missions up and down the California coastline. Modern-day Milpitas sits between Mission San Jose in Fremont and Mission Santa Clara. In the 1700 and 1800s, much like today, this region was a hub of activity connecting these areas.

Eventually, the land became divided between several families. Portions of the land were later sold to newer settlers. The city was named after Rancho Milpitas, one of the ranchos that included a portion of what would later become the town. According to Kraig Bunnell of the Milpitas Historical Society, the local cities were named after landmark identifications. He claims that Milpitas was a Spanish term for "thousand agaves," which he says are native to the region. Another story says that Milpitas refers to milpas, which were fields or clearings used for agriculture, and that this is what the landowners named the rancho after.

In the mid-1800s, groups of non-Hispanic European settlers began to migrate to the area. The arrival of the railroad in 1867 gave the Milpitas area a lift economically. Local produce could be canned and shipped out of the region to other areas. Businesses cropped up and the small town continued to grow.

Nearly 100 years later, it was time for Milpitas to stand on its own. The City of San Jose expressed a desire to annex Milpitas and residents defensively incorporated into their own city in January 1954. When San Jose pursued the issue further in 1960, a group of local citizens banded together, calling themselves the Minute Men. They fought against annexation and Milpitas maintained its independence. The symbol of the Minute Man was then included in the cityÕs flag and official seal.

In honor of its 60th anniversary of incorporation, the City of Milpitas is hosting an Anniversary Gala on Saturday, January 25 at the Barbara Lee Senior Center on North Milpitas Boulevard. This is part of a two-day kickoff event to set the tone of celebration for the anniversary year. Throughout 2014, the anniversary theme and logo will be incorporated into various city events, holidays, and dcor.

The Anniversary Gala is a free, evening event open to anyone 21 and older. Guests will be greeted with hors dÕoeuvres, a no-host wine bar, and entertainment by Milpitas native turned Broadway performer Courter Daniel Simmons. At the close of the evening, attendees will witness the unveiling of a commemorative statue in front of Milpitas City Hall. David Alan Clark, an award-winning artist in Wyoming who has sculpted several monumental pieces across the nation, created the bronze sculpture known as the ÒMinute Man.Ó The inspiration for the 16-foot project was found in the cityÕs official seal. In the sculpture, a farmer stands with his musket and plow, a remembrance of the stand against incorporation and a symbol of the strength and enterprise of the early settlers to the area. The revealing of the sculpture is to be accompanied by a champagne toast and dessert.

From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 26, the city will round off the opening celebrations with a Family Day. Also at the Senior Center, this event will include activities for all ages. The Milpitas Community Concert Band, Milpitas High School String Orchestra and Glee club, as well as several dance groups will provide the entertainment. Activities will be offered in music, art, and science, as well as by the fire and police departments. Food and prizes make this day fun for the whole family!

Many local businesses have joined together to sponsor the yearlong anniversary celebration. Sponsorship includes the Milpitas Post Newspaper, Milpitas Park and Recreation Foundation, the Milpitas Historical Society, McCarthy Ranch, SanDisk Corp., and many others. Space for this event is limited, so be sure to RSVP to in advance of the gala. No additional admission will be offered at the door on the night of the event. For more information, call (408) 586-3210.

City of Milpitas 60th Anniversary Gala
Saturday, Jan 25
6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Barbara Lee Senior Center
40 N. Milpitas Blvd., Milpitas
(408) 586-3210
Free event, RSVP required to attend
Open only to 21 and older

Family Day
Sunday, Jan 26
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Barbara Lee Senior Center
40 N. Milpitas Blvd., Milpitas
(408) 586-3210
Free event, open to all

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