Copperopolis comes out for homecoming

June 08, 2003 11:00 pm

By SCOTT

PESZNECKER

Stefanie Slaton stood near the historic armory in Copperopolis on Saturday morning, waiting for the annual homecoming parade to start.

"This is kind of cool," said Slaton, 35, who moved to the old copper-mining town from Stockton two years ago.

Up and down Main Street, people cheered as the Charlie Stone Memorial Parade — named after a late longtime resident and historian — made its way south through town. The parade is the main attraction of the traditional Copperopolis Homecoming celebration, a fund-raiser to help pay for maintenance of two more-than-century-old buildings in town — the historic armory and the Congregational Church.

The parade featured horseback riders, hot rods, tractors and youth groups, as well as a variety of floats.

"It brings the community together," said Juaniva Ramirez, 70, who has lived in Copperopolis for 13 years.

Resident Dave Penfold rode in a small, mini-horse-drawn carriage during the parade.

"Everyone looks forward to it," he said. "For me, it's for the kids."

Other events included a shoot-out demonstration by Sierra Nevada Guns for Hire, arts-and-crafts vendors and an afternoon horseshoe tournament.

Guns for Hire cowboy "Curley" Bob Firato called the festivities "an event to celebrate when the mines were here and the survival of the town."

Guns for Hire President Jim Miller of Angels Camp said he enjoys the celebration because the folks in his group "get to entertain people and play like little kids."

But the event has a serious side, too. It's designed to help look out for the only two buildings spared by a disastrous 1867 fire.

Copperopolis was founded about 1860 when copper was discovered in the area. The town flourished until the fire destroyed its center.

But the armory and the Copperopolis Congregational Church remained, and have been town treasures ever since.