Cotati's distinctive hexagonal plaza filled with people, food and music Saturday for a 50th birthday celebration by Sonoma County's smallest and second-youngest city.

"I wish I was only 50, but I'm glad my city is a young upstart," Mayor Mark Landman said, standing in the shade on an 85-degree afternoon.

Saturday's festivities included Cotati's 21st annual Kids Day Parade, a cupcake-eating contest, birthday cake, live music and a history tour.

Onstage, Landman posed for photographs with former mayors and Miss Sonoma County 2013, Ashley Kimball, who wore a tiara, sash and berry-colored dress.

Kimball, who was crowned in March and lives in Rohnert Park, said Cotati's event was the "favorite festival I've been to so far."

Marie McNaughton of the Cotati Historical Society told the crowd that Cotati was "a longtime community," inhabited by Coast Miwok people 4,000 years ago.

It was part of an 18,000-acre Mexican land grant in 1844, and five years later was purchased by Thomas Page, a New Jersey doctor.

The town was founded in 1893, but it was 70 years later, with Rohnert Park swelling nearby, when Cotati residents "in self defense," McNaughton said, held an election to incorporate as a city.

The vote on July 2, 1963, was 278 for and 47 against cityhood, she said.

Only Windsor, incorporated in 1992, is younger among the county's nine cities, and Cotati, with 7,310 residents, is 135 people smaller than Sebastopol.

"I like the giant cake," Brody Anderson, 7, said when asked about the outdoor party.

"I told them they could have some after the popsicles," said his mom, Shannon Anderson of Cotati.

"I like my mommy," said Kadin Anderson, 5, playing it safe.

Shannon Anderson said she's enjoyed living in Cotati the past five years. "It's a nice little town. Everybody is just so friendly here."

Patrick Krauss and his girlfriend, Anne Cornell, had driven up from San Francisco to look for a house in Cotati when they were drawn to the crowd in the plaza.

"It's the perfect spot for us," said Krauss, who grew up in the town of Sonoma. "Time to get out of the city."

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or