ST. GEORGE — General Ulysses S. Grant had just assumed command of the Union Army, photography was in its infancy and the city we now know as St. George was a barren desert wasteland situated in an area that would not gain statehood for another 34 years.
All of this was in 1862, the year St. George was established.
Fast forward 157 years, and on Saturday, St. George Mayor Jon Pike and members of the City Council will commemorate the city’s birthday by preparing free root beer floats and cookies at the Social Hall Parlor, located at 47 E. 200 North, from noon to 2 p.m.
Bu that’s not all. In addition to the refreshments downtown, several other freebies will be available Saturday, including free admission to the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center, St. George Recreation Center and St. George Art Museum, as well as free rides all day on SunTran buses. Musical entertainment at the Social Hall will be provided by “Dulce,” a husband-and-wife duo who will play familiar favorites from a variety of genres.
“This is a great opportunity to have a party with the whole community,” Pike said in a press release from the city of St. George. “And if those two hours that we have the root beer floats don’t work for you, there are many other free activities you can participate in during the day. We invite everyone to experience what we call The Brighter Side.”
While St. George spirits are high in 2019, what promises to be a day filled with fun and fellowship will stand in stark contrast to the country’s state of affairs Jan. 17, 1862, the day St. George was incorporated.
The United States was a nation divided, nine months into what would be a four-year Civil War. The West was rugged and wild. The transcontinental railroad was still seven years from completion, which meant travel had to be done on horseback or foot — through sometimes hostile territory.
The first settlers entered the Salt Lake Valley in mid-1847, and less than 15 years later – about 300 miles to the south – St. George was founded. In the ensuing 150-plus years, the area has flourished. St. George is now home to approximately 90,000 residents and is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S.
“We truly admire the sacrifice and struggle of the early settlers of St. George,” Pike said. “The fortitude and faith that they were doing the right thing is an inspiration to me, as well as many others.”
- What: St. George 157th birthday, featuring root beer float social and free entrance to various Southern Utah locales.
- When: Saturday, Jan. 12 | Root beer float social will be held from noon to 2 p.m.; free admission to various locations and rides on SunTran will be available all day (hours may vary depending on location)
- Where: Root beer float social will be at the Social Hall Parlor, 47 E. 200 North, St. George.
- Admission is free and open to the public.