Saturday, July 18, 2009

Celebrate Tucson's Birthday All Month Long in August, 2009

Tucson’s fourth annual month-long birthday celebration offers Old Pueblo residents an in-town vacation exploring their hometown’s history, diversity and natural wonders. Tucson’s Birthday Month co-chairman and Pima County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elias says, “Tucson’s annual birthday celebration provides local families with varied opportunities to have fun for free or at lowcost while learning about the area’s rich and colorful history. These are affordable summer activities for our tough economic times.”

Tucson’s Birthday Month founder and co-chairman Cele Peterson says, “It’s a celebration of the joy we have in being unique. The Birthday Month is a reminder that we should never stop celebrating.”

Based on its growth and success since the first birthday celebration in 2006, organizers have achieved 501 (c) 3 status as Tucson’s Birthday Planners, Inc., and have formed a board of directors. Members are centenarian and community leader Cele Peterson; Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias; Tucson Vice Mayor Member Regina Romero; Ray Davies, a leader in Tucson’s education community; Lance Laber, Executive Director of the DeGrazia Foundation; long-time arts community volunteer David Fisher; Tom Prezelski, a tribal planner with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and former state legislator; advertising executive Jeff Nordensson of The Nordensson Group; and freelance writer and marketing consultant Linda Ray. Last year’s celebration featured more than 100 events and exhibits all over town. Organizations are encouraged to host August 2009 events celebrating their own historic contributions to Tucson, and to post them to the calendar at . To qualify as a Tucson’s Birthday event, it must center on an aspect of Tucson's unique history, environment or diverse culture. It must be open to the public, but it does not need to be free.

Organizations already committed to hosting birthday month events include the Arizona Historical Society, ArtFare, Tucson-Roscommon Sister Cities Committee, Tucson-Mexico Sister Cities Committee, Skrappy’s, City of Tucson Parks and Recreation, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, Tucson Presidio Trust, Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, Community Renewal, Pima County Public Libraries, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, 22nd Street Antique Mall, and Los Descendientes del Presidio de Tucson.

Tucsonans also are encouraged to volunteer to be Birthday Ambassadors via the “Contact Us” link at ( Birthday Ambassadors attend their choice Tucson’s Birthday events to help promote the birthday month. They’re encouraged to text, Twitter, Facebook, photograph, videotape and blog about events ( Orientation for Birthday Ambassadors will take place in mid-July.

Tucson’s month-long birthday celebration was conceived in 2006 by Cele Peterson, who co-chairs the 2009 event with Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías. The month celebrates the contributions of many cultures and interests, as well as the environmental features and institutions that have made Tucson unique.

Mrs. Peterson chose August for the celebration because Tucson has a long history of celebrating both the saint’s day of its patron St. Augustine (San Agustin), for whom its cathedral is named, and the anniversary of the founding of the Presidio de Tucson on August 20, 1775. She felt it was important to celebrate for a month around that date in recognition of evidence that the area was populated 4,000-years ago, and in honor of the many cultures who have influenced Tucson’s development before and since the Presidio de Tucson was established.

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