Our city was founded in 1869 when the Alexander Garrett family’s covered wagon stopped on the banks of the Spring Creek, and the family laid a claim and built a sod house. This means 2019 will be Derby’s 150th anniversary. Shall we have a party?

Well, it seems to me we have much to celebrate. After existing for decades as wee little El Paso, Kansas (population a couple hundred), the decade of the 1950s began the city’s evolution with construction of a four-lane highway through town, a name change to Derby, establishment of a library, volunteer fire department and a three-person police department, construction of modern schools, and development of water and sewage systems. The population soared from 432 in 1950 to 6,458 in 1960.

In 1969, the community (pop. 7,500) celebrated its Centennial with a parade, publication of its history, a Mrs. Derby contest (with prizes like pearls and a mink boa!), an antique show and sale, and production of “A Derby Diary” at the football field to pay homage to the community’s history in a stage play followed by fireworks. A talent show and street dance were held for teenagers. A Religious Heritage Day and Community Gospel Hour were among the many spiritual events held. From what I can tell, various Centennial events occurred for three months in 1969. Now that’s a party!

Derby has boomed with housing developments every decade since and now boasts a population of nearly 24,000. Sounds like a reason to celebrate to me.

What should we plan for 2019? How shall we honor our history and celebrate our progress? Well, I don’t know, but it’s time to figure that out. Assuming some of you Derbyites want a celebration of our 150 years, I’d like to establish a 150th Anniversary Task Force to develop ideas, engage the community, and plan activities.

If you have ideas and want to be a part of developing plans, please indicate your interest by applying for this Task Force at www.DerbyWeb.com, pick up a paper application at City Hall, or contact Hillary at HillaryLawrence@DerbyWeb.com or 788-3132. As with any successful community event, many volunteers will be needed. What better way to participate in community life than to step forward now to celebrate Derby?

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