Whether the cherished memories relate to boxing, swimming or toes, members of Azusa all have their own reasons for celebrating the city’s birthday.

December 29, 1898, marks the day the city of Azusa was incorporated. Nearly 125 years later, Azusa is gearing up for its milestone birthday by hosting various commemorations. To kick off the festivities, Azusa held a community celebration with food trucks, mariachi music and dancing on Sept. 30.

Despite the on and off rain, every seat on City Hall’s lawn was filled. The crowd listened and danced to “the most sought-after mariachi group in Hollywood” Mariachi Los Reyes and Mariachi Las Catrinas throughout the evening. 

Emma Ghee, a junior at Azusa Pacific University, raved about the event. “I love it. I’m having the best time and there’s great food and music. It makes my Mexican heart happy.” 

For each person, the anniversary means something different. It is special to Ghee because her school, Azusa Pacific University, also turns 125 during the academic year. Ghee is grateful that APU brought her to a city that she now calls home. 

After coming to APU, Ghee immersed herself in Azusa. 

“I’m pretty close to some people in the boxing community that have lived in this city for a long time. One of my coaches even has a street named after him here. I also made friends with a commuter my freshman year, and she invited me over to a family party where there was a baile and great food to celebrate their culture, ” Ghee said.

City Hall Parks and Recreation employee, Marissa Moreno, talked about how she is proud of the city’s progress in its 125 years. 

“It’s amazing to see how the city has developed and tonight I love how we get to celebrate just how appreciative our city is of its hispanic culture too,” Moreno said. 

Like many, Moreno was born and raised in Azusa. The city has given her many memories like swimming at the James Slauson Community pool, a place she swam at as a child and now the place she works at. Moreno described the pool as an example of the city’s charm and family oriented nature.

Another attendee, Jennie Castillo, was born on her mother’s kitchen table in Azusa. When asked about her favorite memory in the canyon city, she didn’t even have to think before answering. Castillo told a story from her childhood that captures the comradery of the Azusa community. 

Growing up, Castillo’s neighborhood was full of children. Castillo’s group of  “Little Rascals” would get up every morning eager for adventure. One day Castillo’s crew went biking in Azusa’s park where their daring friend, Chabby, biked without shoes.

“Guess what happened to Chabby? He cut his toe right off [while biking]. We had a little red wagon so we threw him on there and we ran home screaming ‘Help! Chabby cut his toe off!’ Our parents looked at us and they looked at Chabby’s toe and they asked ‘Where’s the toe?’ Then we said ‘it’s at the park.’ ‘Well go back and get it’ they told us,’ Castillo said. 

The children ran back to the park and worked together to find Chabby’s toe. 

“They put his toe back on and he was able to join the service later in life so it was a happy ending,” Castillo said. 

To this day, Castillo’s friends still live in Azusa and have kept in touch with Chabby through the years. Several attendees agreed that once a person visits Azusa, it is hard for them to leave. This is especially evident with Castillo’s reflection.

“I love my town. I’ll probably die here and I’ll be happy with that,” she said.

These pre-birthday celebrations have not only served as a fun way to bring the community together, but have been a moment to appreciate the memories that come with this city.

The next celebration will be The Golden Days, taking place from Oct. 13 – 22.