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Ceres Centennial Gala draws 300
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Members of the Ceres High School drama class deliver a dramatic oral presentation at the recent Centennial Gala, reading excerpts of an 1895 letter written by Lucy Jane Whitmore, wife of Ceres town founder Daniel Whitmore. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

A grand celebration gala on Friday evening, March 23 marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the city of Ceres.

The event was held at the Ceres Community Center and attracted about 300 persons, including many former elected mayors, councilmembers and city employees.

"What a wonderful event for the Ceres Centennial," said Margy Whitmore Sawyer, great-great-granddaughter of Ceres founder Daniel Whitmore. She came with her father, Gordon Whitmore of Manteca, who is Daniel's great-grandson and Clinton Whitmore's grandson. "My dad was pleased to see so many people attending."

The Whitmores were especially entertained by the Ceres High School drama department which offered a dramatic reading of excerpts from an 1895 letter written by Lucy Jane Whitmore, wife of Ceres town founder Daniel Whitmore. Former Ceres teacher Tricia Marles sang during the presentation of Ceres history. During the hourlong program, the audience was also treated to a special 30-minute video made by Ceres High School's video production class (under the direction of Kristen Swanke) highlighting recorded remarks of various residents, both young and old.

The gala included presentation of colors by Cub Scout Pack 132 and Boy Scout Troop 9, invocation by Rev. Adrian Condit and a dinner prepared by the Ceres Lions Club and served by Ceres High drama students dressed in period costume.

The event included displays of historical items, including Ceres Police history and the Ceres Historical Society.

"It was a totally great, fun event," said Lisa Mantarro Moore of the committee. "People lingered after it was over with. We had nothing but positive comments. It was totally fun to celebrate our town."

The centennial marks the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Ceres although Ceres itself traces its founding back to 1869. The first recorded map of the town of Ceres was filed Feb. 20, 1875. Ceres was incorporated as a city on March 4, 1918 and serving as the first mayor was S.W. Cartwright who served only a month and nine days until the first city election was held on April 8, 1918. Vaughn D. Whitmore beat out Cartwright by a single vote to become Ceres' first elected mayor with 28 votes. Besides Whitmore and Cartwright, elected to the first City Council were C.T. Haynes, J.U. Gartin and C.H. Sikes.

Those who did not attend the event still have an opportunity to purchase special centennial products including wine glasses and two styles of Ceres Centennial commemorative coins. Sold at Embroidery Plus at 2940 Fourth Street in Ceres are the brushed copper coins for $10 and the copper with color accents for $20.

All proceeds will go to the Ceres Community Foundation designated for centennial activities.

The Ceres Centennial Committee is attempting to raise approximately $15,000 to $20,000 to build a Centennial Plaza feature on Fourth Street near the Community Center. Chad Kennedy of O'Dell Engineering voluntarily drew up a design for a feature at the corner of Fourth Street and Magnolia. The committee will ask if the plaza can be redesigned to accommodate larger faced bricks so that persons can become sponsors.

"I think we are very close to our goal," said Lisa Mantarro Moore of the committee.

The next celebration of the centennial will come during the Ceres Street Faire where items will be sold. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Street Faire.