Residents, mark your calendars. Palo Alto Day is right around the corner.
If you haven't heard of Palo Alto Day, don't feel bad. Up until late Monday night, it didn't exist.
But after a late-night debate that City Manager James Keene described as "peak Palo Alto," the City Council decreed that April 9 will forthwith be known as Palo Alto Day.
The idea was spurred by a memo from council members Tom DuBois, Karen Holman and Lydia Kou, who argued that the city should have an annual day that recognizes its incorporation in 1894. The brief memo notes that Palo Alto is "largely considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley," is one of few California cities that has its own utilities, and is a leader on environmental initiatives, education and "world-influencing persons and companies."
"It is time, if not beyond time, that we establish something called Palo Alto Day," Holman said Monday, in explaining the proposal.
The council had no qualms with giving the city its own day, though there was some debate over what day should be chosen. The three council members recommended April 21, which they cited as the date in which the state allowed Palo Alto to become "a California city of the sixth class," according to the proposed resolution.
Judy Kleinberg, president of the Chamber of Commerce and supporter of Palo Alto Day, suggested April 23, the date of incorporation that was listed on the City Charter's cover page.
Steve Staiger, Palo Alto's city historian, made a case for April 9, which is when the vote actually happened. The day, he said, is "an important date in Palo Alto's history as it marks the day this little community began its legal existence as an incorporated town."
He likened it to the United States celebrating the Fourth of July.
"That's when we declared our independence," Staiger said of April 9.
The council agreed and voted 8-0, with DuBois absent, to approve the proposal with April 9 as the set date. The only criticism of the proposal came from Councilman Greg Scharff, who facetiously objected to the notion that Palo Alto is a "sixth-class city."
"When are we ever sixth class? We're a first-class city!" Scharff said.
With the date fast approaching, the 2018 version of Palo Alto Day is likely to be a muted (if not silent) affair. But the new day of recognition should have its real premiere party next year, when city officials celebrate Palo Alto's 125th birthday.
Kleinberg said she hopes Palo Alto Day will remain a tradition beyond that. On some years, it may be a big deal, she said. On others, it might be smaller in scale. She said she would like to see it as an annual event that is "folded into every single sector in the community."
"It's the city's birthday," Kleinberg said. "The city needs to be involved."