2/14: Fandango! Arizona celebrates centennial in Phoenix

Posted on by az100

by Jaimee Rose – Feb. 13, 2012 12:55 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com

Arizona’s 100th birthday cake will be vanilla. Gabby Giffords will not be popping out of the frosting as a surprise, although it is a tempting idea.

The cake will not be in the shape of Rose Mofford’s beehive, but there is a citrus mousse layer within — to honor those orange groves we used to have here.

The dress code for our state’s 100th birthday party is “Arizona black-tie,” which means something like tuxedos and bola ties, and if former Gov. Mofford had to guess, she says, it also means you don’t have to wear pantyhose.

“I don’t go anywhere anymore where I have to wear pantyhose,” Mofford says.

She’s still not coming.

The great-grandson of Arizona’s very first governor, George W.P. Hunt, will attend. The grandson’s name is Tom Glenn. He’s in pharmaceuticals. We assume that “Arizona black-tie” works for him.

Arizona’s 100th birthday party is $250 per person, and begins at 5:30 p.m. today at the Phoenix Convention Center.

There will be edible copper on the dessert trio, and Arizona beef for dinner, and Sandra Day O’Connor running things onstage. The Phoenix Symphony will play the Grand Canyon Suite. Steven Spielberg has been invited. Socialites everywhere are raiding their mothers’ turquoise-jewelry stashes. (She who wears the best little-black-dress and squash-blossom necklace wins.)

The party will honor each Arizona county. The party will honor each Native American nation. The party planners would be honored if Spielberg would be so kind as to return his RSVP.

The party is supposed to be the “gala of the century,” say those at the helm, celebrating the weird-Western-wonder of this place in which we live. That’s harder than it sounds.

For example, the planning committee thought about giving each section of the ballroom a name in tribute to the five C’s of the Arizona economy (also featured on the state seal), “but we figured no one would want to sit in the cattle section,” said Sallie Sargent, who is pretty much in charge.

(Five C’s, just in case you’re from California: cotton, copper, cattle, climate and citrus.)

Sargent and cohorts Stevie Eller and Patti Simmons also dreamed of building a replica of the Colorado River to snake down the center of the ballroom, but that got the budgetary nix, Sargent says.

They also went to war to secure birthday candles on the cake — real ones, and 100 of them. However, they are not allowed to serve each guest’s dessert with a burning birthday candle like they’d hoped. Fire marshal = tough crowd.

The bash has an official name: “Fandango!” — which is a historical “term that described occasions and parties back in the territory days,” Sargent says.

This Fandango bears no relation to the movie-ticket sales website, Sargent says, although a few people have brought that up. She’s been researching such things.

For example, did you know that Arizona’s official statehood was originally set for Feb. 12, but “that was Lincoln’s birthday,” and so they moved it to the 14th? Why not the 13th? “Unlucky,” Sargent explains.

To decorate the 145 tables, Jill Murphey is ordering 1,000 copper-colored roses and a big fat pile of “Arizona-style succulents,” she says.

“We do succulents a lot instead of cactus on tables,” says Murphey, director of sales at Avant Garden in Phoenix. If there is cactus on the table, even in Arizona, she says, “people have a tendency to touch it, and it hurts.”

Who’s going to the party? Alice Cooper, of course, and we can’t wait to see his bola tie. Hugh Downs, who will share hosting duties with O’Connor. Gov. Jan Brewer plans to attend, and it would be fun to follow her around during cocktail hour and eavesdrop. Also on the list: Joan Ganz Cooney, who created “Sesame Street”; Karl Eller, who covered the state in billboards; and former Diamondback Luis Gonzalez, who once covered the state in pride.

To decorate the dessert plates, a pastry chef will paint each dish with a golden rendering of the Arizona flag. The trio will include flourless chocolate cake, a cheesecake lollipop and a “sexy praline cigar.”

We’d almost pay $250 to see the esteemed guests discussing that.

Celebrate Arizona

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