South County Beat: A.G. centennial event to honor older residents

Margaret Haak discovered Arroyo Grande shortly after her husband’s work brought them to Santa Maria more than 50 years ago.

“I loved the little town of Arroyo Grande, and I kept looking until I found a place where I could move,” she recalled this week.

Haak raised three children in a house north of town on Corbett Canyon Road and remembers doing much of her shopping in grocery and dress shops in the city’s historical Village downtown.

“It was a little village town,” said Haak, 95. “And then they started building all this stuff across the freeway and it got to be a big town.”

She joined the South County Historical Society years ago to learn more about her home, and still volunteers once a month at the Heritage House Museum and Gardens.

On Saturday, Haak will have a chance to share her memories of living in Arroyo Grande with a larger group. An event has been organized, as part of the city’s centennial celebrations, to recognize locals who are 90 years old or older.

The event will honor both longtime residents and newer transplants, including Claire P. Gordon. Gordon, who has lived in Arroyo Grande for 12 years, said the city’s slow pace makes it a pleasant respite from Los Angeles, where she spent most of her life.

“I’m really very happy here,” said Gordon, 92, a novelist who recently published her fourth book and is at work on a fifth. “I like the low traffic, the low crime, the pleasant people.”

The celebration will start at Victorian Pitkin Conrow Estate, 789 Valley Road, at 2 p.m. For information and reservations, call the Arroyo Grande Chamber of Commerce at 489-1488.

Several other events will take place before Arroyo Grande holds its birthday celebration July 10.

A family oriented bike ride through rural Arroyo Grande will also be held Saturday, with three routes that are 20 miles, 30 miles and 62 miles. Registration information is at www.arroyograndecentennial.org/.

A square dance will be held July 8 at 7 p.m. at the International Order of Odd Fellows Hall at 128 Bridge St. It is free. A western dance will be held the following night at the same location, from noon to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight.

A Centennial 5K Run will be held July 9 at 8 a.m. Details are at http://centennialrun.com.

A host of events are planned for July 10, the day of Arroyo Grande’s centennial, including a Sunday sunrise service, a parade, a block party and a fireworks finale.

Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.