Mayor Max Salter, just back from a trip to Ireland, found the Lord Mayor of Dublin less than impressed by Beverly Hills' 75th anniversary.
"He said, 'That's interesting, we're just celebrating our 1,000th anniversary.' " Salter said last week.
Still, said Beverly Hills' mayor, the city's 75-year Diamond Jubilee extravaganza has been worthwhile.
"The gain is the good feeling among the residents. . . . And you have lots and lots of publicity worldwide, which helps bring a positive effect to your business community," Salter said.
Launched with a celebrity-studded musical extravaganza featuring 1,100 performers and a 1 1/2-ton birthday cake on Independence Day last year, the Beverly Hills ballyhoo comes to an end Sunday with a food festival and Japanese cultural exhibition at Roxbury Park.
The festival will feature dishes from more than 30 restaurants, not to mention firehouse delicacies prepared by members of the Beverly Hills Fire Department. Of proceeds from the food sales, 25% will go to local charities.
A silent auction of 100 objects from local stores, will go toward the refurbishing of the Beverly Hills High School auditorium.
Craig A. Donahue, who organized the public relations campaign for the city's Visitors Bureau, estimates that the celebrations have yielded more than $10 million worth of publicity for the city, including an hourlong network TV show in February, more than 70 television news reports and 250 newspaper stories around the world.
"I mean, to buy an hour of network time is a million alone, and here was an hour of free attention directed at Beverly Hills," he said of the February broadcast.
The city has pledged to pay no more than $800,000 of the cost of about $1.4 million for the celebration, with the rest coming from corporate sponsors such as Cadillac Motors, the Beverly Hills Hotel and American Airlines.
Starting with the musical show in July, 1988, highlights of the jubilee have included cocktail parties for foreign dignitaries, the sponsoring of the city's first Rose Parade float in 30 years, and monthlong salutes to Malaysia, Thailand, Finland, Japan and Spain.
There was some confusion about when to celebrate the date of the actual anniversary, but elected officials said they liked the idea of a civic birthday party, and they might do it again next year.
"It doesn't make much difference what the actual date was. It's like Zsa Zsa. Let her be 65 or 70. Let her be however old she wants to be," said City Councilman Bernie Hecht. "I'm thinking very seriously of making it an annual event."
His colleague Vicki Reynolds agreed, saying: "Somehow the 76th anniversary doesn't have the same ring as a Diamond Jubilee, but this can be the Diamond plus one carat. . . . I think it's nice always to focus, not only on fun, camaraderie and a sense of community, but to look back at our history."