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Mission Viejo : Series of Events Marks Yearlong Birthday Party

Mission Viejo is in the midst of a yearlong series of events celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The observance started with the entry of the community’s float in the 1986 Rose Parade on Jan. 1 and will end with a New Year’s Eve dance, with more than two dozen special programs in between.

Land for the planned community was part of historic, 53,000-acre Rancho Mission Viejo and was acquired in 1963 by developers Donald Bren, Philip Reilly and Jim Toepfer. The master plan for the project was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1965.

Residents moved into the first 90 homes in 1966.

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Since then, the population has reached about 60,000 and is expected to reach 90,000 before the year 2000.

The community now is graced with a 124-acre man-made lake, three competition swimming pools (two of them of Olympic caliber), a public golf course and a private golf club, numerous tennis courts, business and shopping centers, Saddleback Community College and 19 public parks.

The 1984 Olympic bicycle races were held on a course that circled the lake and traversed steep hills in nearby residential neighborhoods.

One of the special events for the anniversary celebration was to have been a visit Wednesday by former President Gerald Ford, but it had to be canceled because of conflicting schedules. It would have been a return appearance, since he helped the community celebrate its 10th anniversary.

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