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More than 500 people turned out for the city’s 175th birthday party Saturday night at the Washington Knights of Columbus.

The anniversary gala opened with a special welcome from Mayor Sandy Lucy, followed by the invocation from the Rev. Brian Hecktor, St. Francis Borgia parochial administrator.

The evening included dinner, catered by Joe’s Bakery, and a short presentation by 175th Anniversary Committee co-chairs Nadine Feltmann and Joe Schneider, who talked about upcoming events for the yearlong celebration.

In her remarks, Mayor Lucy noted that her own family immigrated here from Germany and Poland in the mid-1800s and settled close by in Krakow.

“My grandparents and great-grandparents were farmers, but when my mother was a little girl, she had a different dream,” Lucy said. “I could say it’s because of her dream that I am speaking here tonight. My mother’s dream was to live in Washington.”

Lucy said all of those in attendance have a personal history that comes from somewhere else.

“But no matter where you, your parents, your grandparents, or your great-, great-, great-grandparents came from, at some point in your family history, someone decided to call Washington, Missouri, their home — and that’s why we’re here.”

The mayor said the founder of Washington, Lucinda Owens, along with other early settlers, such as Bernard Fricke and John Bleckmann, left behind a great legacy for the community. She described them as people of courage and faith who took pride in their work, building a city that could last.

“I believe what sets Washington apart, what makes me so proud to be part of this town, comes from the people who continue to live and work here. We’re here to celebrate 175 years because we don’t take our heritage for granted,” she said.

Great Turnout

Feltmann and Schneider said they couldn’t have been more pleased with the turnout.

“The support for the event was overwhelming and the gala committee, chaired by Joyce Jones, did an outstanding job,” Feltmann said.

“I can’t tell you how many comments I heard about how beautiful the hall was, what a wonderful crowd and how much fun everyone was having,” she added. “If Saturday night is any indication, the rest of the year’s events should be a celebration to remember — it will be historic.

“This has been an effort, from the start, undertaken completely by volunteers and we have had an incredible group of people step up and help.”

At the gala, Schneider said the committee was organized over 2 1/2 years ago at the request of the Chamber, the city, Downtown Washington Inc. and the historical society.

“The net profits from our committee and events will go first to help the historical society pay for the Lucinda Owens monument and the rest to the new ‘Save the (city park) Auditorium’ campaign,” he said.

Schneider also talked about upcoming events, including the 175th anniversary parade and community picnic to be held Saturday, May 24; the Owens monument dedication Sunday, May 25, at Krog Park; and an invitational antique car display Sunday, Oct. 5, on Front Street.

Schneider thanked all who attended the gala and anniversary sponsors.

“I hope that this event generates continued support for the upcoming parade and picnic in the park,” he said.

Memorabilia for the city’s 175th was available at the gala and can still be purchased at the downtown post office. Souvenir items include glasses, coasters note cards and a Gary Lucy print celebrating the city’s birthday.

Past Mayors Introduced

Other highlights of Saturday’s birthday party was the introduction of four former mayors — Dick Hirschl, Walt Larson, Bernie Hillermann and Dick Stratman.

A letter of congratulations from Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer also was read, as well as a Missouri House resolution from State Rep. Paul Curtman.

A raffle drawing also was held for a “Celebration” sculpture donated by Washington artist Larry Pogue. Joe Sedlock was the winner.

Musical entertainment was provided by the band All Mixed Up.