Pasadena is a colorful city that has unlimited opportunities to celebrate its unique qualities, and each June the Pasadena Museum of History (PMH) hosts a party that creates a year’s worth of memories for one and all. This Sunday, the museum will outdo itself with an afternoon filled with Western and cowboy-themed fun as it hosts the city’s official 133rd birthday party, tied to its current exhibit, “Giddyup! Children Take the Reins.”

The jam-packed afternoon of entertainment and activities includes a colossal cake designed by Baja Ranch Supermarket Pasadena to feed the anticipated 1,500 guests, as well as performances by five-time international trick roping record holder Christy Lewis and the chance to rope a wooden steer. But the fun doesn’t stop there, as attendees can clap their hands and stomp their feet to classic Western and cowboy songs, or climb aboard and explore an authentic reproduction of a  Wells Fargo Concord Stagecoach , one of America’s most legendary vehicles.

The Crown City Chorus will entertain the crowds with barbershop renditions of favorite Western tunes, while Art 2 Go’s Miss Helen, “The Fastest Crafter in the West!” will help attendees create their own custom cowboy hats. Add in the chance to do gold panning, have water splashing fun with “Pump and Splash” and meet Mayor Terry Tornek and his trusty deputies, and your family will be galloping back home as happy campers.

“This theme was picked in conjunction with our exhibit, which is called ‘Giddyup! Children Take the Reins,’ an amazing collection of carousel, rocking and hobby horses all designed for children,” says Brad Macneil, the PHM director of education and public programming, who’s overseeing the day’s grand festivities. “A local collector named Lourinda Gray has them and loaned them to us for the exhibit. Since there are all these horses we went with a Western theme of ‘Yahoo! Happy Birthday Pasadena!’

“We’ll be turning the grounds into a Western world with world champion trick ropers, gold panning, line dance lessons, the Wells Fargo stagecoach, the Crown City Chorus singing cowboy and western songs,” adds Macneil. “There’s a lot going on.”

Macneil notes that Gray, who lives in Pasadena, also helped another PMH exhibit years ago by supplying carousel animals. He notes that “carousels are disappearing because of insurance and various other issues,” yet Gray has spent decades collecting and restoring them herself. She maintains a warehouse in the Duarte area where she keeps them all and works on them.

Running through Sept. 15, the “Giddyup!” exhibit contains more than 35 smaller-scaled carousel horses and exotic creatures that visitors of all ages will be able to see and touch. An enchanting photo booth features a carousel polar bear designed by J.R. Anderson circa 1920 that children and adults can climb on for a keepsake photo, and plenty of other creatures that kids can climb on as they rock, bounce and roll.

The goal is to bring back awareness of a time when carousels enabled children to imitate their favorite movie cowboys. Gray’s Running Horse studio in Irwindale houses memorabilia and carousel figures of all sizes from her collection, particularly from the Golden Age of carousels from 1861 to 1920, within its 7,000 square feet, and she carefully restores figures for other collectors and operational carousels as well.

“This is the official birthday party for the city and we’ve been doing this  many years,” notes Macneil. “The first big one we did was the 125th anniversary of the city and this is the 133rd. It’s very family oriented and a way to celebrate the history of the city.

“The city was incorporated in June 1886 and that’s why we always have it in June,” he continues. “We have a lot of community partners that come in and help us. We have a cake sponsored by Baja Ranch Supermarket. We expect 1,500 to 2,000 people, so it’s a big cake. We’re fortunate to get the Wells Fargo stagecoach here too, and many community groups like the Jaycees having tables sharing information. Most will have interactive activities for people to visit, so no one will be left looking for ways to have fun.”


“Yahoo! Happy Birthday Pasadena” runs from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Pasadena Museum of History, 470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena. Admission is free. Call (626) 577-1660 or visit pasadenahistory.org.