Union Democrat staff

As part of a year-long celebration to commemorate Yosemite National Park's 120th birthday, the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce in Groveland has installed 14 street pole banners along Highway 120 through Groveland.

With the help of Groveland Community Services District, the banners were mounted and hung along the northern highway corridor toward Yosemite - the shortest route to the park from the Bay Area.

The vertical banners were designed by Silicon Valley graphic artist Patty Cimlov-Zahares. They measure 24 inches wide by 60 inches long.

The design, which incorporates the headline "Celebrate Yosemite" with an illustration of Yosemite's Half Dome and Highway 120, does not include any dates so the banners can be perpetually hung along the highway without becoming obsolete.

Several additional banners are also available for purchase by local merchants.

Ann Schafer, owner of the All Seasons Groveland Inn and Big Creek

Meadow Ranch, believes the installation of these banners is a step in

the right direction in helping people realize that Groveland is a major

gateway into Yosemite.

"They're absolutely gorgeous ... very charming and attractive,"

Schafer said of the new banners. "I think it gives our little tiny

village a very nice identity with the celebration of Yosemite's 120th

birthday - it gives Groveland character."

Chris Loh, general manager of the Iron Door Saloon and Grill in

Groveland, is also a fan of these banners that serve as an historical


"I think anytime we can, as a community, embrace our history -

that's an important thing," Loh said. "If we can go ahead and instill

that sense of history and belonging to the children as well, that's


This project was spearheaded by the Highway 120 Celebrates Yosemite Committee of the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce.

The panel, headed by Jeannie Tasker and assisted by Lynn Upthagrove

and Dori Jones, was instrumental in planning a multitude of events to

commemorate Yosemite's 120th birthday, said Yosemite Chamber of

Commerce President James Nagle.

"The banner project has been a year-long endeavor - all aimed at

highlighting Yosemite's milestone birthday and enhancing Groveland as a

prominent entrance into Yosemite," Nagle said.

The year-long celebration was launched Oct. 3 in Groveland with an

opening ceremony at the Hotel Charlotte and Dori's Tea Cottage. There

were nearly 70 people in attendance, including several park dignitaries

and Tuolumne County supervisors.

Other events scheduled during the year include "A Toast to

Yosemite" signature wine dinner on March 6 at the Hotel Charlotte,

which will feature wines from the Yosemite gateway regions.

Closing ceremonies are scheduled for Oct. 2, 2011.

The Yosemite Chamber of Commerce in Groveland has more than 150

members. Established in 1998 as the Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce, it

was renamed Yosemite Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

The chamber plays a crucial role in supporting community merchants

and in strengthening communication between Yosemite National Park and

the surrounding gateway communities along the Highway 120 corridor,

Nagle said.

The chamber has hosted Yosemite's planning meetings and continues

to have significant representation on the Gateway Partners' board and

advisory council, he said.

For more information, call 962-1122 or visit www.groveland.org.