ORINDA — Given the history of the city's Fourth of July parade, it certainly seems an appropriate place to toast 25 years of cityhood.

It was in 1984, as the run-up to incorporation was beginning, that residents John Fazel and Bobbie Landers came up with the idea of the parade. They built a float with the theme "taxation without representation."

A year later, the Fourth of July parade was held again, just days after the incorporation became official. The new city's first council members, including Landers and the first mayor, Dick Heggie, took a celebratory ride through downtown.

Twenty-five years later, they'll take the ride again. Four of the five original council members will ride in a covered wagon as the grand marshals of this year's parade, one of many way's the city is celebrating its quarter-century birthday.

"I think it's wonderful," Heggie said. "Of course, we expected when we incorporated that it wouldn't just be for a few years, that it would go on forever. I think it's quite good."

The city is planning a variety of 25-year events, including a concert in Orinda Community Park on Tuesday and a special screening of "Back to the Future" — the top movie in 1985 — at the Orinda Theatre on Thursday.


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"We are pleased to celebrate this milestone in Orinda's history," said City Manager Janet Keeter. "Orinda's founding council members, along with all other former council members, will be encouraged to participate with our current elected officials and the community as we celebrate the accomplishments over the past 25 years."

The main thrust behind incorporation was wrestling control over local affairs from the county board of supervisors, said Fazel, then vice president of the quasi-governmental Orinda Association.

"Any time we wanted something we had to go en masse to Martinez and fight," he said. "If we're going to have a fight, we want to have it among ourselves (at city council meetings), not with the county."

Despite concerns from some who thought becoming a city would mean higher taxes, Orinda residents voted to incorporate in March 1985, making them the last in Lamorinda to do so.

On July 1, Orinda was officially a city.

"That was a big change," said John Kirby, who aside from a few years in Hawaii has lived in Orinda his entire life. "I can't say I was all for it at the time, but, you know, it seems like it's OK."

The big change meant big work for the new city council. They had to set up a government from the ground up, start managing the municipal bank account and, perhaps offering a glimpse of things to come, figure out a way to fix the new city's roads, Heggie said.

But as he prepares to ride through Orinda's streets once more, the former mayor said he's pleased with what has happened in the city over the past 25 years.

"It was an exciting thing to do, to be creating a new city," Heggie said, "and I would do it again if I were starting over again."

Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Read the Lamorinda Sun blog at www.ibabuzz.com/lamorindasun.

happy birthday, orinda
A number of events will be held in the coming weeks to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Orinda becoming a city:
  • CONCERT AND BIRTHDAY CAKE IN THE PARK: Blues and rock band the Crises will perform at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Orinda Community Park. Pack a picnic dinner; the city will provide cupcakes
  • FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT: SCREENING OF
    "BACK TO THE FUTURE," 7 p.m. Thursday at the Orinda Theatre. Tickets are $6
  • COMMUNITY PARADE: The annual Fourth of July parade will begin at 11 a.m. and wind down Camino Pablo and Orinda Way. Booths at Orinda Community Park and the community center will open at 9 a.m.
    For more information about 25th anniversary events, visit www.cityoforinda.org.