Volunteer Opportunities for City’s First Ever New Year’s Eve Event

The first event of the year‐long 125th Anniversary Celebration is fast approaching and volunteers are needed to help get the party started! Paso 125 Logo

December 31, 2013’s New Year’s Eve Glow in the Park & Fireworks event promises to be spectacular! The Downtown City Park activities will include such family favorites as Glow‐in‐the‐Dark croquet, Glow-in‐the‐Dark bocce ball, Glow‐in‐the‐Dark horseshoes, Glow‐in‐the‐Dark 4‐square and other glowing fun throughout the park all evening.

Food trucks and warming stations will also be available.

Volunteer shifts are:

  • Noon‐5:00pm (park set‐up)
  • 7:30pm‐10:00pm
  • 9:30pm‐midnight (assisting with games and activities)
  • Midnight‐2:00am (cleanup)

Service groups, adults, and teens are invited to be part of this once‐in‐a‐life􀆟me volunteer opportunity; applications are available in the Paso Robles City Library and at www.paso125.com 

125th Anniversary Volunteer Registration

Applications can be delivered to the Library, 1000 Spring St.; faxed to the Library, 805.238.3665; or scanned and emailed to srobitaille@prcity.com.

Parents must sign for teen volunteers under 18. For more information on Anniversary Celebration volunteer needs, contact Suzanne Robitaille, 237‐3870.

Ring in the New Year with family and friends at the city’s first‐ever fireworks show off the City Hall building!

Suzanne Robitaille
PHONE: 805.237.3870
FAX: 805.238.3665
EMAIL: srobitaille@prcity.com


The Incomparable History of Northern San Luis Obispo County

This area has always been a bit on the edge.


The San Andreas Fault that slices through California runs along the eastern side of San Luis Obispo County. The mountains that divide the county’s north from south also separated the large territories of the Chumash and Salinan people in the time before Europeans arrived. The mission in San Miguel was part of a thin line of Spanish and then Mexican civilization on the far northern edge of the vast Hispanic lands in Central and South America. It was at the end of the railroad line as California rapidly became an island of sophisticated civilization on the edge of the continent, and then the farthest western edge of the United States. Now San Luis Obispo County forms a subtle boundary between the area influenced by Los Angeles and that influenced by San Francisco.

The people who have colonized this edge over the centuries have left a rich history of strength and creativity.

The uniquely blended culture of the area has been held together by rugged pioneers and ranchers, yet attracted, and still attracts, accomplished people who have become world famous and could live anywhere they chose.

This fantastic website lists all of our nearby history museums that delve into the rich history of Northern San Luis Obispo County: www.nslohistory.org.

The History of Paso’s Most Famous Recipe

Pioneer Day and “The Bean Feed in the Park”

By Chuck Desmond, excerpted from the 125th Anniversary Cookbook

In 1930, forty-one years after our city’s incorporation, The Great Depression began to cripple America.  It was felt severely in the very small community simply called “Paso”.  Everyone struggled, but in 1931 the downtown merchants set in motion a tradition that has become renown for the month of October—Pioneer Day.  Pioneer Day, always on the Saturday preceding Columbus Day, is well chronicled and Paso’s most famous recipe is an outgrowth of Pioneer Day.

While there are many things that we Roblans claim as our own, nothing food-wise stands at the top of the list more prominently than our Bean Feed.  Tracing its history has been next to impossible.  Plenty of memories were taxed to get close to the facts.  The meal evolved year after year and almost nothing we could find was officially recorded. The following information is “pretty certain”: 

With the intent to have the rural residents meet and intermingle with the urban residents, the downtown businesses closed and everyone was invited to gather in the city park for a free meal which led to the phrase, “Leave your pocketbook at home!”  From then until now, not a single year was missed, no matter the weather or the state of the world’s condition.  The city park venue has remained a constant since year two.  In the first year, Elmer Bollinger, the postmaster for awhile, organized the event at a softball field where City Hall and the Library are now.  The meal was beef stew.  Who the actual first “stirrer and cooker” were remains a mystery.  Primarily, volunteer firemen did all the work.

In year two, the event was a barbecue organized and perhaps sponsored by Bert Davis who owned the Goodyear Tire Shop.  The cooking had moved officially to the park next to the Carnegie Library and then later moved to the 12th Street side of the park.

In the third year, the meal changed again.  It was “mostly beans with some meat” due to rising food prices caused by The DepressionVernon Sturgeon supplied small cartons of milk for the children and bread came from all over.  Families would bring their own food for the main course as people spent a full day in the park.  The Paso Robles Lions Service Club has ensured the success of the event since 1939, which was the first year of the Lions organization in Paso.

In early years, signs representing specific districts of rural areas of the community were nailed to the trees.  The same signs and locations were used each year.  That tradition stopped for a long time but in 2013 the original signs will again be used!

1000px-beanfeedTerry Black, a resident since 1949 and then-owner of the Goodyear Tire Shop, ran the event from about 1963.  In 1973, he appointed Larry Eastwood, a Lion and new owner of Vic’s Cafe on 13th Street, “to be the new Beans in the Park Specialist“.  Since ’73, Larry and about 15 Lions, plus folks who merely wanted to serve or stir, took the yeoman’s duty of preparing the meal that could feed many thousands of people.  There were dozens of cooking pots (cauldrons) ranging from 50 to 100 gallons. Memories recall that the larger ones came from local politicians who got them from the California State National Guard in Sacramento which in turn had acquired them from whaling ships.  The other pots “just showed up along the way.”  Originally they were wood-fired but with the help of the city crews and the Lions, they were converted to propane heat.  This version of acquiring the pots is the most consistent but not guaranteed to be correct.  Some of them could have even come from Camp Roberts later on.  Just in case you might be planning for your own large gathering, these pots are never loaned out!

On Thursday night, the pots are taken from storage, washed and set up.  Friday, the pots and propane burners are put in place and tested, Saturday at 6am, the cooking begins, and on Monday, the pots are thoroughly washed and waxed to have them ready for next year.  The parade starts at 10am but folks line up for beans as early as 9am for a meal that isn’t even finished cooking until 11:30 or so.  Nothing is served until the parade is finished.

Here is The Recipe:  1200 pounds of the triple-cleaned beans “King City Pinks”,  350 pounds of onions, 100 pounds of green peppers, 50 pounds of salt, 500 pounds of ground beef, 100’s of gallons of water, and 24 pounds of a spice blend that is a highly guarded secret.  It’s reported that the main ultra-secret ingredient in the spice blend is acorns from the park’s oak trees.  You decide!  The 6,000 rolls are delivered from Los Angeles.  Custom carved stirring paddles were donated by Weyrich Lumber many years ago.  There have been only a few times in the past 84 years when the beans have run out.

Don’t you wonder how this story might evolve by the year 2139?

About the Author: 

Chuck Desmond moved from Saratoga (the San Jose area) to Paso Robles in 1999.  Changing his lifestyle, Chuck who ran hi-tech worldwide sales and service organizations, immersed himself into volunteer activities. First as a Hospice volunteer for 7 years and a Meals on Wheels driver for 4 years.  Mr. Desmond has been involved with Pioneer Museum since 2007 and currently is in is 4th term as the  President of the Board of Directors.  He is also a free-lance writer, most notably as a regular contributor to Paso Robles Magazine.  Chuck is a committee member of Paso Robles Quasquicentennial Celebration for the 2014 year.

Tickets Now on Sale for Paso Robles’ 125th Anniversary Fundraising Gala


An extremely limited number of tickets are now available for Paso Robles’ 125th Anniversary Fundraising Gala, details below.

Paso Robles 125th Anniversary Gala Fundraising Dinner 

7:00 p.m. to midnight
Paso Robles Inn Grand Ballroom
$125 per person

 Ring in the Quasquicentennial year and kickoff the Anniversary fundraising with us in the Paso Robles Inn Grand Ballroom on New Year’s Eve. This is a black tie 4-course dinner with ambiance, décor and entertainment designed to celebrate this historic milestone to the fullest. A big band, historic dance performances and dancing are followed by fireworks at midnight. A select number of exclusive live auction lots will keep the fundraising quick and fun. Valet parking is included in the price of the ticket. After the dinner and program, guests will be ushered across the street to enjoy the countdown to the midnight fireworks over City Park.

Tickets are $125 per person, are extremely limited, and sold on a first-come first-served basis. Please bring a check made out to the REC Foundation and any seating arrangement requests (in writing) to Shonna Howenstine at City Hall, 1000 Spring Street, upstairs above the library.

About the Paso Robles 125th Anniversary Celebration: The 125th Anniversary will unite Paso Roblans in a year-long celebration of our history as a community and will captivate citizens and tourists alike with fascinating accounts of our past, history-rich and fun-filled events and sales of commemorative merchandise.  Beneficiaries of the 125th Anniversary are the Paso Robles Historical Society, the Pioneer Museum and Pioneer Day, so they may continue in their missions of preserving, honoring and celebrating the history of Paso Robles. For more information, call 805.227.7236. 

Paso Robles Inn launches “Haunted Hotel Dinner Tour”

Paso Robles Inn_creepyJoin fellow ghost hunters for a rousing good time as the Paso Robles Inn offers an evening of spine-tingling stories and deliciously fine fare and explore tales from the past and present at this historic Paso Robles property.

In homage to the town of Paso Robles’ 125th anniversary celebration, and just in time for Halloween, the Paso Robles Inn has dredged up the lively history of this little town to share some of the more interesting tales of its past during a Haunted Hotel Dinner Tour. Not surprisingly, it all begins on the grounds of the Historic Paso Robles Inn.

From 1864 as the busy stagecoach stop, to the 1891 hostelry for the rich and famous, to its current incarnation as the Paso Robles Inn, you’ll learn all about the Inn’s history and its hauntings, view their scrapbooks and photo albums, and touch real artifacts unearthed when the 1942 Inn was built.

Among all this fun, you’ll be hosted at a special dinner just for tour guests at the Inn’s noted Steakhouse. What’s for dinner? Bloody good prime rib, of course! You’ll enjoy this specially hosted full-service dinner along with 2 glasses of local Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.

After dinner, you will walk the grounds, viewing sites of recurring hauntings and visit “the most haunted building” on the hotel grounds.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, you’ll find your evening filled with humor, interesting stories and decidedly delicious food and wine!

You’ll enjoy:

  • An interesting overview on Paso Robles’ history and the role the Inn played in the formation of the town
  • Stories of the area hauntings, as well as those specific to the Paso Robles Inn
  • A guided walk through the hotel grounds and into the “most haunted” building on the grounds
  • Ghosts 101: a fun introduction to what modern day ghost hunters think and believe about this paranormal phenomenon
  • A deliciously sumptuous full service dinner of the Inn’s famous Prime Rib, with 2 glasses of wine
  • Insider access to the Inn’s scrapbooks, photo albums and select items unearthed during the building of the Inn in 1942
  • A guided stroll downtown to end your evening with coffee/tea and dessert.

BOOK NOW: Haunted Hotel Dinner Tour