This year, 2007, marks the 125th anniversary of Payson.
Though the town would not be officially incorporated until 1973, it was 125 years ago that the town was founded.
The survey for the Town of Payson, population 42, was completed in 1882.
At that time, Payson was primarily a roundup camp for cattle.
Pictures of Main Street at that time show a wide dirt road full of cows and cowboys. It looks more like the front acreage of a ranch than a town.
As we drive down the same road more than a century later, it's difficult to picture a herd of cattle and men on horseback through all the antique shops and concrete sidewalks.
And that's why you celebrate anniversaries -- to force yourself to remember, to ensure you never forget.
Anniversaries -- of towns or marriages -- are a chance to reflect. It's a time of inventory to mark your progress. It's a chance to celebrate that progress and to emphasize the fact that you didn't quit when times were tough.
As we mature, our personalities change, but our core does not. It is the same with any town. This is a chance to look back and see what parts of ourselves we may have lost along the way and the things that we don't want to repeat.
It's a chance to remember that obstacles have come and gone. They were bumps in the road -- not walls that stopped your progress.
Anniversaries are billboards of hope that give us perspective on the past and confidence for the future.
Celebrating the anniversary of your town is a bit like cheering for your team. It's an opportunity for cohesiveness and connectivity.
Many of those in the heritage community stress the importance of creating a narrative for the history of a town that can be easily retold. That narrative cements the identity of a town, which is incredibly important in a community like ours that is growing and changing at a rapid clip.
There are many people living here today who weren't here five years ago. Many of those people are retired residents who moved here from elsewhere. This is a place they chose to live -- they were not born here or transferred here for a job.
Many chose Payson for the sense of community they felt here.
Payson's 125th anniversary yearlong celebration is a chance for those new residents to hear the "narrative" of the town's past and a chance for lifelong residents to remember what they've been through together.
Once we all understand the past in the same way, it is easier to move forward with a similar vision for the future.