Yuma gears up for 2012 Arizona centennial

Posted on by az100

November 12, 2010 6:47 PM

Arizona will be celebrating its status as a centenarian in 2012, and state officials are already planning a host of festivities to celebrate.

Several business and community leaders and local political officials, including city of Yuma Mayor Al Krieger, gathered at the Pivot Point Conference Center to discuss ways Yuma County can help prepare for the celebration.

“Our goal is that Yuma celebrates the centennial in whatever way they would like to do through projects and events in the Yuma area, and also get involved in some of the events they are doing statewide as well,” said Karen Churchard, executive director of the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation, who spoke to the Yuma officials during the summit.

This summit gave attendees the opportunity to hear first-hand about signature projects and events being planned by the commission in collaboration with the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission.

They also learned about communities already making plans and how Yuma can participate.

“It is a milestone and a unique time in our history,” Churchard said of the 100th anniversary.

“I think we are all fortunate we will be here to celebrate the last of the 48 states to celebrate its 100th statehood. It brings a lot of pride to our communities and I think our state right now could use some pride.

“I think this will be a great rallying point to bring Arizonans together, while giving those who are new to our state the ability to really appreciate and understand our history, and also to know where we are going in our future as well.”

Upon proclamation of President William Howard Taft on February 14, 1912, Arizona became the 48th and the last of the contiguous states to enter the Union of the United States of America.

Nearly ten decades later, the Arizona Centennial Commission was established to plan a celebration of Arizona’s 100th anniversary of statehood, culminating on February 14, 2012.

Working in collaboration with the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission and communities throughout the Grand Canyon State, the centennial is an opportunity to create a greater awareness, among residents and visitors alike, of the vibrant culture, rich heritage and majestic beauty that define the great state of Arizona, the commission stated.

Community involvement is vital to planning events and activities that showcase Arizona’s development from Native American beginnings to 21st century innovation, the commission said.

These events will accentuate the diverse nature of the state with respect to its people, entrepreneurial spirit, tourist destinations and educational opportunities.

Yuma will do its part, said Charles Flynn, executive director of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area.

“For the last decade we have really focused on celebrating our history and bringing it forward and reconnecting with the Yuma river front. A lot of that history ties into the territorial days.

“For example, the Yuma Siphon was completed in 1912 and really brought water to the whole Yuma Valley. Those are important stories to tell because that is the twist to the Yuma story within the centennial.”

Another example is the Ocean to Ocean Bridge, Flynn said.

“People don’t realize that was built essentially upon statehood, because after statehood was created in 1913, then congressman Carl Hayden secured the funds for the bridge. It was built and opened in 1915. One of the benefits of statehood was the Ocean to Ocean Bridge.”

Flynn envisions a grand celebration in Yuma in 2012.

“I think what Yuma has going for it that can really help is that we have two organizations that partner in a lot of things — the Yuma Visitors Bureau and the Heritage area.

“We work so closely together, and we know Yuma’s history is an important part of promoting all of Yuma. We are used to doing this. We are not starting from scratch, and we can adapt and focus on the centennial as yet another element of Yuma’s history.”

The 2012 commission is working on a tight budget due to the current economic crisis facing the state.

“We are hitting the ground running to start fundraising; we do have some of the projects funded — that’s good, but we do have a long ways to go. We are hopeful and we are keeping positive that we’ll be able to reach the goal in our fund-raising,” Churchard said.

If you would like to help plan the celebration in Yuma, call the Crossing National Heritage Area at 373-5192.

For more information, log on to arizona100.org.

Chris McDaniel can be reached at cmcdaniel@yumasun.com or 539-6849.

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