A picture-perfect summer evening at Powerhouse Park - children playing on the lawn, friends and neighbors relaxing and socializing, the sun slowly setting into the ocean - seemed to capture the essence of why so many residents love Del Mar and came out to celebrate the city's 50th birthday July 12.
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"It doesn't get any better than this," said resident Beth Davidson.
Young families, longtime residents and elected dignitaries filled the beach-side park to mark Del Mar's 50 years as an independent city.
Children enjoyed hula-hoop contests and sack races, a puppet show, painting and planting flowerpots. The Del Mar TV Foundation set up an outdoor studio to record residents' memories of the city and birthday wishes.
Assemblyman Martin Garrick and San Diego County Supervisor (and Del Mar resident) Pam Slater-Price presented the City Council with congratulatory proclamations; the board of supervisors declared it Del Mar Day throughout the county.
Many former mayors attended, including Andy Schooler, who served from 1999 to 2000.
"This is paradise," Schooler said. "Every mayor takes a turn helping to preserve paradise for future generations."
After a lovely barbecue dinner, the Mar Dels got the crowd on their feet dancing the night away to classic rock 'n' roll.
"We have people here from six months to their 90s - everyone is having a great time," said Claire McGreal, who chairs the Del Mar Foundation hospitality committee, which organized the party.
Attendees were also invited to write or draw their predictions for what Del Mar will look like in 50 years. The prediction sheets will be locked in a time capsule, which will be opened on the city's 100th birthday in 2059.
Fourth grader Tripp Davidson envisioned everything bigger than it is now.
"There will be giant skyscrapers to your left, a beach hotel right about here, the train tracks will still be there," he said. But turning towards the Powerhouse, he added: "I hope they keep that building. I like that building, it's a nice building. I've had a lot of memories at that building."
Stu Smith, a 40-year-resident, predicted Del Mar and Solana Beach would merge into one city.
"Del Mar is awfully small and residential to be an economically viable city of the future," Smith said.
Some residents were concerned about the future state of the ocean, including 11-year-old Emily Bravo.
"I hope people won't pollute as much," she said. "If we keep polluting Del Mar might turn into a dump."
Residents of all ages said they hope the city does not change too much.
In 50 years, "we'll be right here," said resident Randy Amerine. "There's not a place in the United Sates we'd rather be than right here."
His 13-year-old son, Tyler, agreed: "I love the beach, the waves are really good, the sunsets here are really great. Hopefully, it will stay the same."
Prediction sheets can still be filled out to be included in the time capsule. Complete them by June 24 at the Del Mar Library or Joe Jelley's office at 1309 and 1401 Camino del Mar, respectively.