More than 125 years ago, there was no South Hill Mall or state Route 512, and Ezra Meeker was at the helm of the City of Puyallup.
Now, with the city’s 125th anniversary just weeks away, city officials and others are ramping up for a celebration more than a century in the making.
The Aug. 19 community gathering is filled with local officials, Puyallup Tribe of Indians tribal representatives and councilors, historic artifacts, and a live history show featuring none other than Ezra Meeker. The celebration begins 6:30 p.m. in the Pavilion in Pioneer Park.
Chris Egan, a 1991 Puyallup High School alum and current TV sports reporter and anchor for KING 5, will emcee the program.
“This community has been so good to me,” said Egan, who still lives in Puyallup with his wife and three children. “I have good memories growing up here. There’s a lot of good people, and a lot of pride for our community. There’s a true sense of community and tradition.”
Egan says the event will be a great evening for both longtime and new residents of Puyalllup.
“I’m glad they’re doing it,” he said. “It will be a great way for parents and families to learn a bit of history.”
In addition to Egan, Ray Egan (no relation to Chris) will give a living history presentation, portraying Ezra Meeker.
Ray Egan’s material is based off of Meeker’s books, and he occasionally adds to it.
“I enjoy bringing history to life,” he said. “I’m going to try and tailor (the performance) to the occasion. I think Ezra would be delighted by the occasion.”
Following Ray Egan’s performance, he will remain in character for folks to have their pictures taken with Meeker in front of the replica covered wagon.
Historic artifacts and photographs will also be on display from the Washington State Fair, the Puyallup School District, Good Samaritan Hospital, the Daffodil Festival and the Puyallup Police Department.
According to Brenda Arline, public affairs officer for the city, an interactive community timeline will also be part of the event, which will allow those to share a special Puyallup memory with their fellow community members.
“For example, someone might write that they graduated from Puyallup High in 1965, or their grandparents moved to Puyallup in 1946,” Arline said.
The event will include plenty of surprises for attendees, too, Arline said.
For more information on the event, visit www.cityofpuyallup.org or call 253-841-4321.
City of Puyallup 125th Anniversary events
▪ A special talk will be given at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Meeker Mansion. Dennis Larsen, Ezra Meeker’s biographer, will speak.
▪ On Aug. 15, grab a map and a “passport” at the start point — the Meeker homestead in Pioneer Park. There will be a dozen waypoints throughout town between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Learn a little history at each stop, and get your passport stamped, and you will get a prize at the finish line at the Meeker Mansion.
▪ At 3 p.m. Aug. 16, on the porch of the education building at Centennial Park (the Meeker Mansion grounds), a group of talented professionals will present a musical review from the 1890s.
▪ Tea will be served under canvas at Centennial Park (the Meeker Mansion grounds) at 1 p.m. Aug. 17; a historical Hat Fashion Show will be the entertainment. By reservation only, $12 per person. See the Meeker Mansion website for more details at http://www.meekermansion.org or call 253-848-1770 for reservations.
▪ At 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Puyallup Library, Ruth Anderson will give an illustrated lecture on “Puyallup’s Women of Will.”
▪ From 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 21, a Woodbine Cemetery presents a tour of the resting places of many of the city’s prominent historical figures.
▪ The Puyallup Community Band will present a concert in Centennial Park (the Mansion grounds) at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 22.
▪ The Puyallup Historical Society will set up a temporary museum of artifacts, as well as a timeline, for the week of the celebration. Located in suite 103 of City Hall, and it will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 15, 16, and 22. On Aug. 19, the city’s birthday, it’s open from 2 to 6 p.m. and on Aug. 23 from noon to 2 p.m. Admission is free.