The city of Lacey celebrated its 50th birthday Monday, inviting the public and former and current city officials to peruse its history and hear guest speakers.
All of it led to a lighted parade, a tree lighting, an appearance by Santa Claus and, if the weather held, an outdoor screening of Dr. Seuss’ animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which came out in 1966 — the year of Lacey’s incorporation.
Before the holiday fare, though, everyone gathered in a new public space in Lacey called The Hub, which happens to be next door to the relocated Ricardo’s restaurant in the city’s Woodland Square Loop area.
That’s where visitors could read about the city’s history on 10 historic exhibit panels:
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▪ The decision to become an incorporated community passed by a vote of 1,660 to 1,418 on Nov. 8, 1966. The election was certified Dec. 5, 1966.
▪ Lacey has a city manager-led style of council and the council appoints a mayor every two years. William Bush was the first mayor under the revised system, and Robert Williams was the first city manager. The current city manager is Scott Spence. Perhaps the best-known city manager was Greg Cuoio, who held the job for more than 20 years.
▪ The Fred Meyer store in Lacey used to be home to the Lacey Drive-In theater. It was in operation from 1953 to 1981, but was torn down in 1988 to make way for the store.
“Any event like this I want to be part of,” said Tom Nelson, a former mayor and council member in attendance. “It’s a great place,” he added, saying he raised six children in Lacey and is proud to call it his hometown.
Jon Halvorson, who spent 25 years with the city in various capacities, including as mayor, said he was proudest when the city passed a bond to create 10 parks, including Rainier Vista. He said it began a legacy of open space for children and families to enjoy.
Councilwoman Cynthia Pratt, who has lived in Lacey since 1973, recalled the community having a “strip mall feel to it.” But it has grown smartly since then, she said.
“I’m excited to see the next 25 years,” she said.
Ken Balsley, who has lived in Lacey since 1974 and has been a strong community supporter, wore his “I Love Lacey” shirt on Monday.
After 50 years, Lacey has achieved its own identity, he said. “Lacey has managed to become the city it has become,” Balsley said.