Cries of “happy birthday” rang out as hundreds of residents old and young filled the firehouse Sunday, Jan. 28, to mark the 100th anniversary of Gearhart. The former town of Clatsop formally incorporated in 1918 after a vote.
Bill Berg, the author of “Gearhart Remembered: An Informal History,” published in 1990, stood by a Victrola playing fox trots and tangos as visitors entered the ample fire hall.
“This is the birthday of the city of Gearhart,” Berg said. “This is a birthday for people, not historic landmarks. It marks the moment we gained control of our own destiny as a city. … We became an autonomous entity.”
The 79-year-old Berg celebrated his first birthday in Gearhart as a seasonal resident before moving here full time 45 years ago.
Berg told the audience that of the many contentious issues that have divided the city over the years, none was more bitterly fought than when Gearhart joined the Seaside School District in 1959.
Berg shared the microphone with 95-year-old Bob McEwan. McEwan recalled days when he worked for the opulent Gearhart Hotel, the destination location.
Jon Blissett, at 80, Gearhart’s oldest firefighter, remembered the days he ran a Chevron station on the corner of Pacific Way. The station closed in 1992.
Nearby, a slideshow spun images of historic buildings and scenes.
Visitors sipped prosecco as volunteers from the Gearhart Homeowners’ Association did a brisk business in memberships and sweatshirts.
Mayor Matt Brown was one of three mayors to attend the festivities. Former mayors Kent Smith and Dianne Widdop were also in attendance.
“It means a lot for the whole community,” Brown said. “It’s great to see everybody celebrating, unifying from the whole community. It’s really about the people of the last 100 years who have made this place special.”