Fireworks in Gilbert, concerts in Mesa and a statewide proclamation are among the ways the 216th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution will be celebrated.
Gilbert’s second annual Constitution Fair on Saturday is the area’s marquee event, featuring a family march, patriotic songs, replicas of government buildings, fireworks and a projected crowd of more than 5,000 people at Mesquite High School.
Mesa, with the area’s longest-running celebration, will host the 27th annual amphitheater program on Sept. 22. "It’s a Republic, Can We Keep It?" will feature the Mesa City Band and the Hillmin School of Music.
Gov. Janet Napolitano is expected to issue a statewide proclamation Wednesday to honor the Constitution’s birthday. Ashley Brannon, 17, of Mesa’s Red Mountain High School read from her winning essay at the state Capitol last week.
Event organizers and some state politicians agree the Constitution is often overlooked, raising the importance of Constitution Week events.
"We need to have an awakening here of our Constitution," said Barbara Stowell, a Gilbert Constitution Week Committee chairwoman.
Secretary of State Jan Brewer said Arizonans should attend at least one event during Constitution Week, which officially runs from Wednesday through Sept. 23.
"While this celebration of our United States Constitution may not be accompanied by the grand fanfare of parades and fireworks that some other national holidays receive, it is every bit as important to reflect on its meaning," she said.
Gilbert will kick off its week of activities tonight with a "Tribute to the Founders," featuring a performance on a rare glass armonica instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin and the words of Mesa resident Steve Allen, author of "Founding Fathers: Uncommon Heroes."
"Most people haven’t read the Constitution, and I don’t have a problem with that, but they need to know how important it is," said Allen, who will share little-known facts and stories about the founding fathers.
Gilbert Councilman Dave Petersen, a Gilbert Constitution Week Committee chairman, celebrates the Constitution year-round by providing copies of the document to Boy Scouts who attend council meetings. Petersen said he’s distributed more than 1,000 copies since joining the council two years ago.
"The Constitution is our heritage, and personally I feel there’s not enough knowledge about the Constitution out there," Petersen said.
• 7 p.m. today Tribute to the Founders New Hope Community Church, 1380 E. Guadalupe Road
• 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday Constitution Fair Mesquite High School, 500 S. McQueen Road
• 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 A Song of Celebration Living Word Bible Church, 3520 E. Brown Road
• 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 22 27th annual amphitheater program Mesa Amphitheater, Center and University
• 6 p.m. Wednesday Presentation by local mayors, Constitution quiz contest Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza, 7380 E. Second St.