We’re 100 years old, and today, we’re celebrating all over the state with parades, fairs, craft shows and more. Because my little town of Guthrie was the first state capitol, where the gunshot sounded signifying statehood, we got to throw the biggest party of all.
The official Guthrie Centennial Website stated that Guthrie would “host historical re-enactments of the statehood proclamation, the swearing-in of Oklahomaâ€™s First Governor, Charles Haskell, and the symbolic wedding of Oklahoma Territory with Indian Territory.” The re-enactments were held at the historic Carnegie Library where they happened in 1907.
I hate to gush, but I am so proud that Guthrie still has the Carnegie Library. It’s been surpassed by a more modern building, but the edifice of the old is beautiful. In fact, if you’re ever able to come visit, please stop by and see all of the old buildings we didn’t demolish. During the 50s and 60s, we simply covered them with aluminum siding for modernization and, I like to think, protection. In the 80s, we finally tore off that trailer siding, and found beautiful red brick buildings of which we could be proud.
As much fun as all of this sounded, I wasn’t going into town today. One hundred thousand people were supposed to converge upon Guthrie, and I was afraid it couldn’t handle the crowds or the traffic. Then, I was watching the early morning ceremonies on television, and I knew we had to go to the parade. It was a once in a lifetime chance, and I’m glad we took it.
The parade started at the Scottish Rite Temple, wound through downtown and ended at Mineral Wells Park where the town held a barbecue just like the one they had in 1907. It began at noon, and we got there just in time. There were marching bands from several local high schools and from most state universities including Langston, Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma and my personal favorite, the P-r-i-d-e of Oklahoma from OU. (Sorry, I graduated from the Journalism School. I can’t help it.)
We saw lots of horses, buggies, Model T Fords, tractors, and re-enactors. It was fun, and with highs in the 70s, we had perfect, if windy, weather. My only giggle, and it is a small one, was that nearly every band played the song “Oklahoma!” from the play of the same name. It is our official state song, but after the six or seventh time, I had to smile.
I don’t know how many people attended the celebration, but my fears about parking were unfounded. There were parking lots a mile or two away from the festivities, and school buses carried everyone to and from the downtown area. I didn’t hear a soul complain. Congratulations Guthrie, you did a great job. I look forward to the Territorial Christmas next month, and until then . . . You are doin’ fine Oklahoma. Happy Birthday.