BY BLUE KAUFMAN
Even in a little town like Cooper City, we too often get caught up in our own busy schedules. Thoughts of an upcoming exam, an appointment, or just life in general can send us into a stupor of stress, placing a wedge between us and other people nearby. However, every April, Cooper City residents gather for a couple hours to celebrate the community. Picnic blankets lay sprawled across the grass, live music floats through the air and fireworks go off, piercing the night sky with jets of bright light. Strangers are suddenly neighbors in this festive sea of citizens, collectively knitted together to acknowledge one event: Cooper City Founder’s Day.
Founder’s Day, an event that has been going on for over fifty years, remains a well-known festival in Cooper City. Organized by the Recreation Department, the event recognizes the city’s legacy, growth and its founder, Morris Cooper.
Purchased in 1952 by Cooper, it’s hard to believe that this sprawling area was once a vast expanse of orange groves and cattle land. Initially, Cooper advertised to sell it in the Wall Street Journal, but the land never sold due to a real estate market plunge and thus the city was born. Traditionally celebrated on the last Saturday of every April, the Founder’s Day event now serves as a way for residents to honor this history.
Luring citizens with its food, festivities and fun, Founder’s Day is arguably one of the biggest events for the city. Since its start, Founder’s Day has evolved into much more than just acknowledging our pioneer roots: It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the city’s growth.
Robert Fleischer, a resident of Cooper City for 43 years, was the athletic trainer for Cooper City High School when the school first opened in 1971. Although Fleischer retired three years ago, he still stays active as a substitute teacher for the school. The school, which originally opened with 34 students, now encompasses over 2400 and Fleischer has been there throughout the drastic changes in population. The school is planning to tear down the old building and replace it, an act Fleischer characterizes as “bittersweet”.
“I remember when this old building was first built; it was historic,” Fleischer said. “While it’s no doubt it’s worn down and in need of replacement, I will surely miss it.”
According to Fleischer, the great public schools are why so many people have moved to the city. With high passing rates and superior academic achievement, the impressive schooling offered by Cooper City has lured many families.
“The population expansion is definitely the biggest change I’ve noticed,” Fleischer said. “It wasn’t that long ago when Stirling Road was just a dirt path.”
Like the school, the Founder’s Day event has also evolved. Originally the festivities, which were small, compared to today, were held on the Cooper City Elementary School grounds. In 1989 the event was moved to CCHS and later to Brian Piccolo Park in 1990, where it has remained since. Despite the development, the core purpose of Founder’s Day remains the same.
“It’s definitely an important event,” Fleischer said. “It’s a chance to reflect on the city and to appreciate how far we’ve come, even if it’s only for a little while.”
For this reason, the recreation department works hard to make the event a success. Linda Good, the head of the department, hastily prepared for this year’s Founders Day, which took place on April 27th.
“When planning Founder’s Day, we try to keep to traditional events that families enjoy, while also incorporating new ones,” Good said.
This year’s Founder’s Day included a parade, BBQs, egg tosses, raft races, food and game booths, sporting competitions, a blood mobile, fireworks and much more.
“Many look forward to the event all year,” Good said. “It is a wonderful time to spend time with friends and neighbors and I encourage everyone to come out and have a good time.”