BY KENDYL COUNTS
With lawn chairs at the ready and coolers stocked with ice, Cooper City residents are gearing up for the annual Founder’s Day celebration that never fails to send a rush of pride through the streets. For many, this day of bonding with neighbors represents the perks of living in a tight-knit town.
Cooper City’s small town story began in 1959, when investor and philanthropist Morris Cooper purchased a 691 square foot lot of orange grove and animal pasture. Though it was at first sparsely populated and difficult to finance, Cooper saw promise in the land and sought to build a thriving community upon it. By his death in 1975 at the age of 82, he had done just that; 4,000 people had settled down to call his investment home. In honor of his accomplishments, he was laid to rest with the only key to the city that has ever been made, and his legacy is commemorated with an annual Founder’s Day celebration.
The event kicks off with a 7:30 a.m. pancake breakfast at the community center sponsored by Boy Scout Troop #118. From there, residents can make their way to the 1 mile fun run that will be held just outside. As these events wrap up, the main event of the morning will make its way down 90th avenue – the annual Founder’s Day Parade, which features Cooper City High School’s very own Sound of Pride.
“We want to give back to the community and promote our band program so we can grow for the future,” junior Kaylee Roadruck said. “It’s very important for the younger generation to see our marching band and know that they can represent Cooper City someday.”
After the parade reaches its destination, the afternoon festivities at Brian Piccolo park begin. As with every year, the car show and food booths begin at 1:00, and throughout the day craft shows, business expos and live music become available to guests. Performances by local groups will be held on the community stage throughout the evening, and carnival-style games will add a festival feel to the large field. The event culminates with the 9:00 fireworks display, the most highly anticipated segment of the day.
For an event packed with activities that must accommodate hundreds of participants and vendors, the recreation department finds that there is no shortage of preparations to be made.
“A lot of planning goes into Founder’s Day between contacting all of our arts and crafts booths to coordinating with the Broward Sheriff’s Office,” Recreation Program Specialist Felicia Trainor said. “There’s a lot of behind the scenes work.”
While Founder’s Day was originally celebrated in June, stormy weather has proved an obstacle in the execution of many past celebrations. It was moved to April, where it stayed put for a long time, but the April showers of the last few years have prompted the event’s upheaval yet again. Hoping for blue skies and sunshine, the recreation department finally settled on March 11th this year.
An early arrival is not the only new thing coming to this year’s Founder’s Day celebration, however. Guests can expect an additional bouncy house, a new 3-in-1 obstacle course, and a free video gaming truck for the kids. The event will also be hosting the very first Little Miss Cooper City pageant on the community stage, and the winners for the recent Miss and Miss Teen Cooper City pageants will be revealed for the first time. To top it all off, the recreation department opted for a new fireworks vendor this year to ensure that the show is more spectacular than ever. In the eyes of the recreation department, a community that enjoys fireworks together stays together.
“Founder’s day is a great day to unite the residents, commission, and staff of Cooper City,” Trainor said. “It’s a great family fun environment and one of the true reasons why Cooper City is someplace special.”