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Tucson's 235th birthday lasts all month

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Tucson's 235th birthday lasts all month

Ever celebrated the birthday of a whole city before? Throughout August, Tucson celebrates its 235th birthday with a month-long series of events.

Although Aug. 20, 1775, marked Tucson's founding by Hugo O'Conor, the kickoff for the celebration began Aug. 1 with the dedication of the gates of Mission Garden at the base of A Mountain.

Later that same day, Colossal Cave Mountain Park had a presentation about the park, an interactive slideshow about local insects and even had a bug hunt.

For this week, there are many things going on ranging from seeing a museum of historical miniatures to watching a colony of real bats fly out from under a bridge while the sun sets.

"I personally like the events where there are less than 100 people because then you can get to know them," said Linda Ray, the executive director of the nonprofit Tucson's Birthday Planners.

Ray said that although there are many fun and interesting events the goal is to get people in Tucson connected.

Exhibits from The Arizona State Museum, The Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun and Contreras Gallery host local artwork.

On Aug. 3, Beowulf Alley Theatre will host an "Old Time Radio Theatre" show which will provide viewers with an evening of stories like Blondie and My Friend Irma enhanced with sounds created by creaking doors and footsteps across gravel driveways.

Then, near the bridges of three different washes, you can watch thousands of Mexican free tailed bats fly into the night on Aug. 5. Small observation groups will form but people will not be allowed to enter into the roost sites.

On the first Friday of August, the Tucson Museum of Art will host an official kickoff party for the Tucson Birthday Celebration.

This fundraising event will benefit Tucson Young Professionals, a local nonprofit group formed to attract and retain young professionals in the Tucson area.

The 8 p.m. event promotes social networking for all ages in an atmosphere that weaves together dance, music, artwork and social commentary. On tap, find the official beer mix of the Hugo, a half-and-half pint of Guinness and Dos Equis.

Teen curators of the Historical Society's MYCE (Museum Youth Curator Experience) program will also do a presentation about Tucson's heat and will display an exhibit they created on Aug. 7 at the Arizona History Museum.

"We want to get young people involved so that they have more fun things to do in the evening," said Ray.

Ray said that in the past the organization did not particularly cater to Tucson's youth and that each year she looks at the gaps where certain cultures or interest groups are not represented and tries to include them the following year.

"I think we can cater to all the different groups in Tucson so that everyone can be involved and have fun," she said.

Another attraction is The 2nd Annual Re-Discover Tucson Expo held in the Windmill Suites at St. Philip's Plaza, also on Aug. 7.

Free food samples, discounts and prizes will be given to visitors while they view the different booths of favorite attractions, entertainment and businesses of Tucson.

On the same day, the Wheeler Taft Abbett Library will host a presentation about desert reptiles where their diverse adaptations and strategies for movement, defense and feeding will be explained.

An event perfect for those young at heart is the Valley Of The Moon Tour where magic, fairies and music are combined for a night of fun during the same evening.

There will be live music, face painting, pictures with a fairy, snacks and lemonade offered at the free event.

While there are some designated events during the celebration, some "events" are suggested activities to get family and friends together to enjoy Tucson. These may include creating a neighborhood ice-cream party, watching the sunset or hugging an ocotillo cactus.

The late Cele Peterson, who created the idea of having a birthday month for Tucson in 2006, wanted to bring people together.

Although Peterson recently passed away at 101, her vision has continued and Tucson's Birthday Planners continues to organize the annual events.

Throughout the rest of the month, dozens of more events are on tap.

To honor Cele Peterson, the Fox Theatre will put on a free musical show Aug. 14, featuring Gospel Music Workshop of America Chorus, Sticks and Fingers, Gabriel Ayala, Mariachi Sonido de Mexico with Olga Flores and Los Gallegos with Salvador Duran.

"We are just so excited to have Salvador Duran play at the Fox Theatre," Ray said. "This is going to be such a nice tribute to Cele."

On Aug. 20, the 235th Birthday Flag Ceremony will be held at the Presidio San Agustin de Tucson Courtyard. The five flags that have flown over Tucson — American, Spanish, Mexican, Confederate and the Arizona state flag — will be presented in a ceremony.

The Tohono O'odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe flags will also be presented, as will a replica of the 28-star American flag that was brought by the Mormon Battalion and flown over Tucson on December 16, 1846.  Those attending the events are encouraged to dress in period costumes and can try a piece of Tucson birthday cake.

On the same day, Hotel Congress will have a Tucson birthday cake competition for local bakers. Last year, celebrity judges from the community rated the cakes in two categories: best in show and the best tasting cake. Of course, visitors get to try the cakes. After the competition everyone will sing "Happy Birthday" to Tucson.

Another big birthday celebration is the Big Kahuna Tropical Bash on Aug. 21. The event will celebrate our "all sand, no water" existence as music, look-alike contests, dunking booths, kids activities, giveaways and free Old Pueblo Trolley rides will be on offer. Merchants in Tucson's historic entertainment district will offer "235" specials (like, $2.35 or $23.50) for Tucson's 235 birthday.

The San Xavier Mission will also celebrate Tucson's birthday on Aug. 21 with an all-day craft and food booth event. Here you can enjoy Native American arts and crafts and entertainment. There will be present-day members of the Chuk Shon community and all proceeds of the event will benefit the Wa:k community.

"These people are very moving and important to us because they were here before us and we are thrilled to have them involved," Ray said.

Although the presidio of Tucson was founded 235 years ago, the base of A Mountain — Chuk Shon or Black Mountain — has been inhabited for over 4000 years.

"This event is for Tucson but really it is for people here to connect," Ray said.

Tucson birthday events

"Remembering Tucson:" Historic Tucson Miniatures

  • Aug. 3 - 7
  • The Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
  • Tuesday through Saturday 8/3- 9/4 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Admission: $5 to $7; children under three enter Free

A Happy Birthday Tucson Historic Flags Family Night

  • Aug. 3
  • Chick-fil-A at El Con
  • 5 - 8 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

DeGrazia Celebrates Tucson

  • Aug. 3 - 31
  • DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
  • 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Old Time Radio Theatre

  • Aug. 3
  • Beowulf Alley Theatre
  • 7 p.m.
  • Admission: $8 adults, $5 first 2 kids ages 6-12


  • Aug. 4 - 28
  • Contreras Gallery
  • Tues.-Sat. from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Nightly Bat Parade

  • Aug. 5
  • 6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

First Fridays Offical Kick off Party for Tucson Birthday Celebration

  • Aug. 6
  • Tucson Museum of Art
  • 8:00 p.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Admission: $10 before 8:30 $20 after 8:30

2nd Annual Re-Discover Tucson Expo

  • Aug. 7
  • Windmill Suites at St. Philip's Plaza
  • 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Desert Reptiles

  • Aug. 7
  • Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr Library
  • 2:00 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Teens Celebrate Tucson's Past: "Escaping the Heat"

  • Aug. 7
  • Arizona History Museum
  • 1:00p.m.-3:00p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Valley Of The Moon Fantasy Tour

  • Aug. 7
  • Valley Of The Moon
  • 7:00-9:00 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

Spectacular Birthday Sunset

  • Aug. 9
  • Western Sky
  • 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Celebrate Tucson Concert Honoring Cele Peterson

  • Aug. 14
  • Fox Theatre
  • 7:00 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

235th Birthday Flag Ceremony

  • Aug. 20
  • Presidio San Agustin de Tucson Courtyard
  • 8:00a.m. - 10:00a.m.
  • Admission: Free

The Birthday Cake You've Been Longing For

  • Aug. 20
  • Hotel Congress
  • What time, you say? Stay tuned.

San Xavier Mission Celebrates Tucson's Birthday

  • Aug. 21
  • Arts and Crafts Plaza
  • 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

The Big Kahuna Tropical Bash

  • Aug. 21
  • Tucson's historic entertainment district
  • 5 - 9 p.m.
  • Admission: Free

On the Web

Check the Tucson's Birthday Planners website for more events:

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