Rancho Los Cerritos is celebrating its 175th birthday this year, and the public is invited to join in on the festivities.
"This is an important milestone to be celebrating because the rancho is the birthplace of Long Beach," Alana Reese, public relations manager, said. "The city of Long Beach developed on land that had been part of the rancho, so they are very intimately connected."
The Rancho's history goes way back, even before the house was built, Reese said.
That land first belonged to the Native Americans, then was given to a former Spanish soldier name Manuel Nieto through a land grant. That land was later divided amongst his children, and one daughter, named Manuela, inherited the space that was later purchased by John Temple, Reese said.
"The rancho as we know it today was built in 1844 by John Temple," she said. "He had about 15,000 cattle on the land until about the 1860s, when he sold the ranch to the Bixby family."
The Bixbys converted the cattle farm into a sheep farm, and at one point there were about 30,000 sheep at the rancho, Reese said.
Today, the rancho is a historical site owned by the city and operated by the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation. It is open to the public for events, tours and even weddings. Guests can tour the grounds and see what life might have been like living life on those historic grounds.
"We're going to be celebrating that (anniversary) pretty much for the rest of the year," Reese said.
In addition to scheduled events, the rancho is introducing a couple of partnerships to make the anniversary a little sweeter, she added.
Thanks to a partnership with Liberation Brewing, beer tastings will be on tap with exclusive beers inspired by fruits from the rancho gardens, Reese said.
The rancho also is partnering with the Long Beach Unified School District for an art contest, featuring art from children of all ages. That date will be announced later this year.
The anniversary also marks the beginning of an environmental project focused on harvesting rainfall and reducing runoff and pollution on the property.
The project was funded with the help of a $1 million Port of Long Beach grant and is expected to take up to four years to complete.
Finally, on Sept. 28, there will be a community celebration featuring music, art and food. This will mark the end of the Rancho's anniversary events.
And now it's time to launch the Rancho into the next 175 years, Reese said.
"Hopefully we keep opening more doors and are able to show the public even more of the rancho as we go along," she added.
For more information about upcoming events and anniversary celebrations, go to rancholoscerritos.org.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.