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Blowing out 60 candles

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By Kirsten Laskey

Flames from 60 candles flickered and danced on a pale blue birthday cake Friday at Fuller Lodge to celebrate Los Alamos’ 60th anniversary.

Members of the community, young and old, came to wish the town a happy birthday and help blow the candles out.

Fuller Lodge was decked to the nines for the party, which was sponsored by the county, Los Alamos National Bank and Los Alamos National Security LLC. On the lawn were inflatable jumping games for children and blue and white balloons.

The HillStompers, dressed in their bold and sparkly finest, provided live music.

Special guests included Rep. Jeanette Wallace, her son, Terry Wallace, the principal association director of science technology and engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos County Council Chair Mike Wheeler and 60th anniversary co-chair Chris Chandler.

Sen. Tom Udall was represented by Michele Jacquez-Ortiz, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan was represented by Jennifer Catechis and Veronica Rodriguez represented former Sen. Pete Domenici.

Additionally, Sen. Jeff Bingaham sent a letter to congratulate the town.

So now that Los Alamos is 60, what are some major highlights of the past six decades? Everyone seemed to have their own opinions.

Joe Rieken mentioned the Cerro Grande Fire while his wife, Betsy, identified the changeover of the management at the lab and the municipal building being torn down.

Michael Johnson agreed the fire was a significant event. He said he admired “how the town really came together after the Cerro Grande Fire. How we all as a community helped each other.”

Paula Vives commented a real highlight was how much Los Alamos celebrates the arts and music.

“I think the most amazing thing is how much music and the arts are available for such a small town,” she said.

A lot has occurred since Los Alamos was founded in 1949 and while there have certainly been ups and downs people can still find qualities that they admire about the county.

“Everyone’s really friendly,” Natalie Dimitruck said.

“I would say how the town was able to establish itself as a town when nobody knew that it would stay that long,” Francois Hemez said.

Jack Peterson joked, “I like the small town and the big computers.”

Participants were not the only ones to embrace the town’s longevity, several speakers offered congratulations and praise for Los Alamos.

“We have a very rich history and we should be proud of it,” Chandler said. “Happy Birthday, Los Alamos.”

“Happy Birthday to all of us,” Jeannette Wallace said.

Besides the music, cake and speeches, a plaque was unveiled in recognition of the state for assisting residents and Los Alamos during the Cerro Grande Fire. The plaque will be installed in the capitol building later this year.

“It’s really lovely and I think people will be pretty pleased to see it,” Chandler told the Monitor Thursday.

The party was just one of many events held to celebrate the county’s birthday.

Chandler told the Monitor it’s hard to pick a high point in the many celebrations but said she enjoyed the Los Alamos Concert Association’s concert which featured Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

Another highlight was a panel discussion made up of former Los Alamos women who were elected officials. The panel shared their experiences in recognition of National Women’s History Month.

There is still more fun to come.

On June 20, it will be Los Alamos Day at the Isotopes game. During the game, members of Pierotti’s Clowns will throw the first pitch and a local singer will sing the national anthem.

Several historic hikes are scheduled for this month, July, August and September.

Additionally, White Rock Month will be celebrated Sept. 13 and on Sept. 8 there will be a panel discussion with original White Rock citizens.

Throughout all these events, Chandler said, “What we really want is for people to recognize how the town was built on the collective efforts of volunteers. Los Alamos and the lab have had stressful times (and I am) hoping this will bring people’s spirits up … and reinforce a sense of community spirit.”