Arizona became a state on Feb. 14, 1912, and on Valentine’s Day 2011, Arizonans began a festive countdown to the state’s 100th birthday. Special events are ringing in our centennial from canyons to pine forests, mountaintops to grasslands. The fun continues — some of it right here in the East Valley — throughout 2012.
On top of a milestone Statehood Day, Chandler — where iconic Arizona families such as the Bashas and Serranos began making a name for themselves — turns 100 in 2012. The city is celebrating with many of its own events.
Below are highlights marking both occasions. For full event listings and details, visit www.az100years.org or www.
Gilbert History Awards
Learn about citizens, living and dead, who made a difference for Gilbert in the fields of agriculture, sports, religion, commerce, arts, military, science, community service, social service, education and medicine, at an awards ceremony honoring them. 6 p.m. Nov. 15, 2011, Gilbert Municipal Center Council Chambers, 50 E. Civic Center Drive.
Steam Locomotive Tour
Union Pacific’s Steam Locomotive No. 844 — the last steam locomotive built for the railroad — chugs into the state via Willcox on Nov. 10, 2011. On Nov. 12, Engine 844 will head to Picacho, Coolidge, Gilbert and Tempe for whistle stops and an overnight stay in Phoenix.
You’ll be able to climb aboard a platform for an eye-level view into the cab and see support cars that travel with the 454-ton locomotive, such as the 1949 Howard Fogg (Union Pacific’s last boiler car), the 1962 Art Lockman maintenance tool car and the 1961 Reed Jackson concession car, once a moving post office. An engineer will answer questions and point out interesting features.
No. 844 was retired to special service as Union Pacific’s railroad ambassador in 1960. It last visited Arizona in 1976. For times and locations, follow the engine on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/up_steam.
17th annual Chandler
Community diversity is celebrated with two stages of entertainment, food and drink, and art, craft and info booths. Designated an Arizona Centennial Official Event in 2012, the fest will include a showcase of Arizona’s counties and their unique contributions to the state’s culture and heritage. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 14, 2012, Downtown Chandler Library Plaza, 22 S. Delaware St. (480) 782-2735.
Chandler Symphony Orchestra celebrates our Native American, Hispanic, prospector and pioneer roots at this concert with flamenco guitartist Chis Burton Jacome, Native American flutist Arvel Bird, composer Frank Darmiento and the Chandler Celebration Choir. It’s an officially designated Arizona Centennial event. 8 p.m. Feb. 3, 2012, Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave. Free. (480) 782-2680.
Beginning in February 2012, see the vision of Arizona’s next 100 years at this 10-month-long World’s Fair-styled exposition. It will include technology, architecture and environment pavilions, plus entertainment, rides and food on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Chandler’s 100th Birthday
A weekend of celebration begins May 17, 2012, with history displays, a birthday cake contest and the dedication of a time capsule at City Hall. On May 18, a downtown party with artists, music and food marks the district where the town’s history began. A community gathering with games, exhibits, entertainment and fireworks is May 19 at Tumbleweed Park.