Arvada set to celebrate 120th Anniversary - Arvada Press (2024)

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City plans celebrations of historic firsts throughout the summer; businesses get in on the festivities

Arvada set to celebrate 120th Anniversary - Arvada Press (1)byRylee Dunn

Arvada set to celebrate 120th Anniversary - Arvada Press (2)

When a Georgia prospector named Lewis Ralston discovered the gold that would eventually lead to the Colorado Gold Rush, he may not have envisioned that 120 years later, thousands of people would be making their homes in the foothills of what was then an undeveloped frontier.

Yet that was exactly what residents of the area — first known as Ralston Crossing, now Arvada — did, and now the city has plans to celebrate its 120th Anniversary all summer long.

At certain events this summer, like Taste of Arvada and Arvada On Tap, the city will set up historical exhibits to share the story of how the town came to be. Arvada Days is set for Aug. 24 this year, which coincidentally marks the 120th Anniversary of the signing of the city’s articles of incorporation.

City Communications Manager Rachael Kuroiwa said that she’s working on finalizing a walking tour that will include research from the Arvada Historical Society and allow folks to experience the past and present at their own convenience.

“(The walking tour) takes a lot of the great work that the Historical Society has done and then put it on a on a map that people can get on their phone and kind of follow along,” Kuroiwa said. “My real hope is that it can live past this year so that when we have people visiting Olde Town, they can learn a little bit about the history of the buildings that they’re seeing and the people who came before us and Arvada.”

When Arvada was incorporated in 1904, it was a small settlement that primarily focused on agriculture — the city was once known as the “Celery Capital of the World.”

A number of important “firsts” occurred within Arvada’s city limits, including the first King Soopers grocery store and the first traffic light in Jefferson County (at the intersection of Grandview Avenue and Olde Wadsworth Boulevard).

Now, the city is home to over 120,000 residents split across two counties. Mayor Lauren Simpson said the city has grown into something beyond what anyone could have expected.

“It’s exciting to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Arvada as a city,” Simpson said. “This community has grown, I expect, in ways far beyond what its founders could have ever imagined. But I think they’d be really proud of what we’ve become.

“Arvada is a special place,” she continued. “Not because of the nice things we have—our parks and trails, historic Olde Town, etc. Rather, it’s the people that make this city a community. There’s an authenticity — an ‘Arvada-ness’ — that motivates us to want to take care of our city… and of one another”

A number of businesses are getting in on the festivities. On June 22, La Patisserie Francaise will serve special 120th Anniversary branded cookies, while Outside The Box will be giving away free Swedish dishcloths sporting the anniversary logo.

Arvadans looking for a drink can stop by LUKI Brewery for a special Arvada Beer — set to be released around Aug. 1 — or Odyssey Beerwerks for $2 off its Gold Strike Kolsch from June 15 through July 15.

Meanwhile, the Arvada Flour Mill will be open for tours on Sundays through September, with groups starting at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The tours are $10 for people over the age of 12 and come with a free book, “The Old Mill” about the mill’s history. Mill tours won’t be held on July 7, Aug. 4 and Sept. 1.

Kuroiwa said about half of Arvada’s residents have lived in town for 20 years or more — meaning that, for a large portion of the city’s population, Arvada history may be new information.

“We certainly have people who have lived in Arvada for their whole lives; about 50% of residents have lived here 20 years or more,” Kuroiwa said. “So there’s lots of people who may be aware of some of this history, but we also have new folks who are going to be learning the history of Arvada for the first time.”

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Arvada set to celebrate 120th Anniversary - Arvada Press (2024)
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