SE Valley gears up for Arizona Centennial

Posted on by az100
by Srianthi Perera – Sept. 5, 2011 11:28 AM
The Arizona Republic

In a multitude of ways ranging from installing monuments and museum exhibits to enacting plays and enhancing the state’s geography education, Southeast Valley communities are preparing to celebrate Arizona’s 100th birthday next year.

Arizona became a state on Feb. 14, 1912. However, the commemorations planned by cities, community groups and schools begin well before the anniversary date and end well after it.

In keeping with the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission’s Centennial Plan, the cities have developed projects, some of which are enduring Legacy Projects. They enhance teaching, learning and writing of Arizona’s history with new content, highlight a community’s particular heritage, celebrate its present accomplishments and provide a vision for its future.

Area schools are marking the centennial with art projects and creating time capsules.

Several far-reaching projects stem from Arizona State University.

The Arizona SciTech Festival will collaborate with more than 200 organizations in the state to integrate science in events with hands-on activities and workshops, discussions, exhibitions, concerts and tours during February. The official centennial brands the state as a leader in science and technology.

One goal is “to get kids engaged and more interested in science and realize there are opportunities in science in Arizona,” said Jeremy Babendure, director of the festival initiative.

The Arizona Geographic Alliance, housed at the university, has launched a bank of 62 lesson plans that teach Arizona history and geography for all schoolage children.

Mesa resident C. Lyn Johnson has written a play, “The Desert Smells Like Rain,” based on the extraordinary lives of three young people in Arizona who lived in the late 1800s – Mickey Free, Carlos Montezuma and Helen Sekaquaptewa. The play will be presented by the East Valley Children’s Theatre as an official Legacy Project.

Here is a look at how Southeast Valley communtiies are preparing for Arizona’s 100th birthday.


Mesa will explores its aviation and aerospace heritage with a year-long, multi-faceted project called “Mesa Takes Flight.” The idea was developed following two exhibits at Mesa Historical Museum on the city’s role in World War II aviation.

“(The Centennial) is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate the past, but also to use this as a moment to look forward with anticipation,” said Cindy Ornstein, Mesa arts and culture director.

Ornstein said the umbrella theme explores Mesa’s legacy of innovation, and that “flight” symbolized both creative pursuits and continued growth in aviation. Two capstone festivals would follow the many exhibits, open houses and other celebrations held at the city’s museums, airport, art center and similar locations during the year. The festivals cost about $65,000 and the funding will come from sponsorships and the Mesa Arts Center Foundation.

“Everyone has to watch their budgets,” said Ornstein, echoing the situation with most cities. “(In Mesa), connecting the programming was a cost affective way without having to break the bank.”


Gilbert will bestow awards to citizens, living or deceased, whose achievements in specific areas of activity “best exemplify excellence and whose impact was felt either in the town, the nation or internationally.” Nominations are open in the categories agriculture, commerce, science, education, sports, arts, community service, medicine, religion, government service, social service and military. The awards are to be given at a ceremony on Nov. 15 with Mayor John Lewis presiding.

Residents are also organizing a culinary competition that speaks to Arizona’s history. The Arizona Blue Ribbon Pie Roundup and Bake-off will be held from Jan. 22-23 at Highland High School. Organizer Pam Jackson says pies have been around since pioneering times. The celebration involving pie has been designated an official centennial event.


Chandler is in a rare situation: It celebrates its own centennial in May. Some of its signature events, such as the multicultural festival on Jan. 14 and the Tumbleweed Tree Lighting and Parade of Lights on Dec. 3, are state-sanctioned official Arizona Centennial events. The city’s birthday celebration weekend is May 17-19.

“It’s a neat thing that we share our birthday with the state as does the town of Clarksdale,” said city spokeswoman Nachie Marquez, adding that Chandler plans to use its birthday events to promote the state’s statehood.

The city’s business community has so far raised $30,000 for the dual celebrations.


The Arizona Landscapes exhibition at Tempe Center for the Arts from Feb. 11 to June 9 focuses on what is a common subject for Arizona’s artists. Traditional art, contemporary installations and photography of 13 artists from the state will be featured. Salt River Project has given it a $5,000 grant.

Most of Tempe’s 2012 exhibitions in its gallery spaces in the post office and the three floors at the Tempe Public Library will be devoted to the popular culture of Arizona to commemorate the centennial, said Michelle Dock, gallery coordinator at the arts center. At the library, the American Society of Botanical Artists collaborate for a realistic show titled “A Century of Botanical Art” in Arizona.

Tempe also presents “Fabulous Arizona Fantastic Tempe,” a series of interactive programs designed to increase the appreciation and understanding of the city’s history, environment and culture.

Apache Junction

Apache Junction will feature a President Theodore Roosevelt re-enactor who will be the grand marshal for its annual Lost Dutchman Days Parade. The 47th annual rodeo/carnival/parade Feb. 24-26 has been designated as an official centennial event. After the parade, “President Roosevelt” will drive to other locations on the historic Apache Trail and speak about the road built to carry materials for the construction of the Roosevelt Dam 100 years ago.

Three monuments are to be dedicated Feb. 25 on the grounds of the Superstition Mountain Museum to commemorate Arizona’s statehood, the Roosevelt Dam and 100 years of the Apache Trail. The museum is on the historic trail.

The monuments, built at a cost of about $35,000 and in collaboration with Salt River Project, have rock bases with rocks collected from the museum grounds, middles of removed slabs from the Roosevelt Dam and are topped by metal plaques. The statehood plaque will have the five C’s – cotton, citrus, cattle, copper and climate – shown in historic photos.

Celebrate Arizona

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