The year was 1953.
During the first Costa Mesa City Council meeting — in a store that sold used auto parts — the five council members reached into their pockets. Each grabbed a $20 bill.
They then handed the combined $100 to the city treasurer.
"Can you imagine a more humble beginning for a city than this?" asked Costa Mesa Historical Society volunteer Art Goddard. "City Hall, a used-parts store? Council members pulling out 20 bucks to start a treasury?
"That's good grass-roots America, isn't it?"
Goddard's nearly 20-minute presentation detailing Costa Mesa's history started the first meeting Tuesday of the 60th Anniversary Celebration Planning Committee that, along with its to-be-determined subcommittees, will organize the various aspects commemorating the city's 60th anniversary of being incorporated.
City CEO Tom Hatch led the meeting in the Emergency Operations Center next to City Hall. Various poster boards with historical photographs and information lined the walls, and the Jazz Age-inspired song "Costa Mesa, U.S.A.," by Nannette and Her Hotsy Totsy Boys, played in the background as committee members and guests arrived.
The committee promises to encompass a wide range of Costa Mesa stakeholders, from the City Council, Sanitary District, school district and Planning Commission to the Senior Center, South Coast Plaza, small-business owners and service clubs.
Goddard opined that with the upcoming celebration, "some of you will conclude that this is a celebration about the journey."
By journey, he meant the story of how the city, from its Native American and Spanish roots, grew into the towns of Fairview, Paularino and Harper and eventually became Costa Mesa — a name a Miss Alice Plumer chose from among several in 1920.
Among the for-certain details of the 60th anniversary committee are that it be primarily organized by volunteers, with some help from city staff in aspects like permits and financial matters, Hatch said.
He said the city's allotment of $75,000 for the celebration — an amount that still faces approval by the council — likely will be supplemented by other donations and sponsorships. The amount for the 50th anniversary party was $50,000, Hatch said.
The chairperson and vice chairperson of the committee will also be chosen, as well as the duties of subcommittees.
Subcommittees in charge of marketing and branding, arts, fundraising and sponsorships, outreach, youth, volunteers, food and beverage, the kickoff event and history were among those suggested.
Future committee meetings lasting between 90 minutes to two hours are planned for each Thursday in January, Hatch said.
To get additional input, the city is also planning on hosting an online discussion board that will be divided into topics of the celebration. A Facebook page is also in the works.
"What we found at the Historical Society over the years, the more people know about the community, the more they're likely to care about it," Goddard said. "And in this crazy world, caring is everything."