DEL MAR — The city of Del Mar celebrated its 60th anniversary on July 15, with officials, volunteers and residents alike praising the city for its charming village character and dedicated community.
Although City Council recognized the landmark anniversary at its July 15 meeting, the party had already begun the night before at a jazz concert put together by numerous volunteers.
About 200 residents gathered at the event, each with a proud — and often quirky — story to tell about the city they call home. But regardless of the narrative or duration of time spent in the city, there are two things all residents seemed to share: a passion for civic life and a love for the beach village.
For Joe Harper, chief executive officer of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, what makes Del Mar special is “a combination of location and the people.”
“The residents here are so involved,” Harper said. “ … there’s an eclectic mix of people here and they all seem to get along.”
The event was a local labor of love: the Del Mar Foundation teamed up with the cultural arts committee to put it together, with the Del Mar Historical Society preparing a slideshow to recognize Del Mar’s rich history. Local brewery Viewpoint Brewing Company catered the event.
The jazz concert was performed by saxophonist Charles McPherson.
The concert brought together a heap of past and present local officials; current council members mingled with former mayors Tom Pearson (1968-1972), Al Tarkington (1979-80), and Jan McMillan (1990-91, 1994-95), to name a few.
To Bob Gans, former president of the Del Mar Foundation, the familiarity of the event is just one illustration of Del Mar’s unrivaled charm.
“It’s rare to find what people like to think of as a ‘small town,’” Gans said. “Where else do they hold a community event like this, and everyone knows each other?”
Del Mar incorporated in 1959, after concerned citizens sought out ways of protecting their local voice in the midst of increasing development in surrounding areas like La Jolla.
After circulating a petition, residents were able to bring the option of incorporation to a ballot. It won by a close margin.
“It was a pretty hot topic,” said Historical Society President Larry Brooks.
Del Mar incorporated long before its neighbors to the north — Solana Beach and Encinitas didn’t become cities until 1986. Yet Del Mar is by far the smallest city in the county at about 4,300 people — a solid 9,000 less residents than the county’s next smallest city, Solana Beach.
“We just do with what we’ve got and seem to be doing a pretty good job,” Brooks said.
Photo Caption: Saxophonist Charles McPherson performs at Del Mar’s 60th anniversary celebration. He was joined by Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet, Robb Thorsen on bass, Mikan Zlatkovich on piano, and Richard Sellers on drums. Photo by Lexy Brodt.
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.