Celebrate Arizona’s 100th birthday with these Centennial-appropriate activities.
Re-create Arizona’s 1912 statehood celebration parade with a stroll along Centennial Way, the mile-long stretch of Washington Street (from Seventh to 19th Avenues) that’s become the metaphorical ribbon on Arizona’s birthday cake, with displays honoring the state’s 15 counties and 22 American Indian tribes. Finish on the steps of the Arizona Capitol Museum (1700 W. Washington St., www.lib.az.us/museum) and imagine George W.P. Hunt, a handlebar-mustachioed walrus of a man, arriving for his first day of work as Arizona’s inaugural governor. centennialwayaz.com, 602-532-6100
Explore the “Deuce”
Long before it housed Symphony Hall, the strip of Second Street between Van Buren and the railroad tracks near Jackson Street was our own Skid Row. Nicknamed The Deuce, it was a foul hive of flophouses and speakeasies that attracted prostitutes and vagrants during the early days of statehood. It’s where Ernesto Miranda, accidental pioneer of the Miranda rights, was arrested and later stabbed to death in a bar. Touring the ‘hood now, you won’t see opium dens – the area was razed during an urban renewal project – but you will find hopping nightlife at Copper Blues or Bar Smith.
Drive the Apache Trail
Formerly a stagecoach trail that carried both Apache Indians and Teddy Roosevelt through the Superstition Mountains, this magnificent drive is quintessential Arizona. The 145-mile round-trip path starts in Apache Junction, passes through the Wild West town of Tortilla Flat, and ends at Teddy’s namesake dam and lake. Stop for a hike in the mountains or simply soak in the desert landscape along the winding road; either way, be sure to give thanks to western expansion for this treasure. US 60 East to AZ 88
Wax Rhapsodic with Wranglers
Hailing from a tradition of spoken-word campfire odes to strong drink, dusty women and full-uddered Herefords, cowboy poetry is an oft-overlooked facet of Western heritage. For two decades, the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering has been celebrating this unlikely intersection of sensitive expression and manly brio. This year’s event features performances by acclaimed poets and musicians, plus provocative seminars like “Melodious Tales” and “The Woman’s Touch.” On Saturday, there will be artist-monitored open sessions, perfect for getting that John Wayne haiku off your chest. Feb. 3-5; Buena Performing Arts Center, Sierra Vista; $18/day; cowboypoets.com
Hear Flutes and Flamenco
Chandler Symphony Orchestra’s Arizona Centennial Celebration Concert honors Arizona’s epic natural grandeur with performances from Native American flutist Arvel Bird and flamenco guitarist Chris Burton Jacome. Together, they’ll give musical expression to Arizona’s native, Hispanic and pioneer roots. Seating is first-come, first-served, so be sure to show up early for this aural pleasure. Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m.; Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler; Free; chandlercenter.org
Ride the Historic Rails
Inflation, shminflation – for the same cost per ticket as in 1912, the Grand Canyon Railway is hosting a round-trip ride in a 1920s coach to Arizona’s world-famous fissure. The two-hour Valentine’s Day ride from Williams meanders through ponderosa pines and high desert, with four hours at the Canyon for speechless staring. For extra romantic brownie-points, there’s an after-ride Centennial Sweetheart Dinner at the 100-year-old Sultana Theatre in Williams. Feb. 14, 9:30 a.m.; Grand Canyon Railway, 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams; $7.50 per person for train ride, dinner varies; thetrain.com