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Chief's Monthly Message

Feb 01

[ARCHIVED] Celebrate 150 Years

The original item was published from February 1, 2019 8:21 AM to February 6, 2019 10:57 AM

A lot has changed in 150 years, especially in the City of Derby. In 1869, the Alexander Garrett family staked a claim near Spring Creek close to what’s now Garrett Park, sparking the community that soon became El Paso and then in the 1950s boomed into Derby.

Let’s get this in perspective. In 1869, Ulysses Grant was sworn in as our 18th president. The outlaw Jesse James robbed the bank that made 150th Anniversary logohim famous, and the first transcontinental railroad was completed. The country experienced the first Black Friday in 1869—a financial crisis caused by gold speculation—not shopping the day after Thanksgiving. The terrain here was mostly prairie grass, and Kansas had just become a state in 1861.

Look around Derby today and try to picture it with dirt roads and only a few blocks of “town” buildings in the vicinity south of Madison Avenue around the railroad track and what’s now K-15 highway. The rest of what’s Derby today was all farmland.

Some of you have lived here your entire lives and have seen major changes (and remember when there were no stop lights), while others only know Derby as it is today. We often welcome families from across the U.S. who are here because of an assignment at McConnell Air Force Base. Some of those families enjoy Derby so much they choose to retire here. No matter how long you have lived here, we are glad you call Derby your home.

Exciting events and celebrations will occur this year starting in February and running through October. On Feb. 12, I will read a proclamation at the City Council meeting declaring 2019 to be our sesquicentennial year. Our first events include Uncorked on February 23, a fundraising event organized by the Derby Community Foundation, and the Derby Chamber Pancake Feed on March 2, which includes a food drive, read-a-thon and book swap.

Throughout the year, announcements will be made about additional events, including an art show from March 11 through May 8, a medallion hunt, and a murder mystery at the library. On June 7-8, our BBQ Festival at High Park will have new attractions including a music festival, and July 4 will be a fun-filled day with activities for the entire family, including an open house at the new fire station currently under construction. In October, the celebration will wrap up with the Chamber’s Chili Cook-off and Taste of Derby. To see a full list of events, visit

Need a gift for Mother’s Day? Or a coffee table book for your lobby? Visit the Derby Public Library to purchase coffee mugs, t-shirts, games and other keepsakes to commemorate the 150th anniversary.

I invite you, your family and friends to come out to celebrate Derby’s anniversary. By raising your family, establishing your career or building your business here, you are the reason why Derby is a thriving and progressive community today.   

Randy White