The folks of Washington state are throwing a centennial birthday bash, and only the immediate world is invited.
The "Celebration of the Century" kicks off Friday, the Evergreen State's 99th birthday, and climaxes a year later.It was at 5:27 p.m., Nov. 11, 1889, when Elisha P. Ferry got a telegram - collect - from President Benjamin Harrison declaring the territory to be America's 42nd state.
The centennial doings combine the homespun with high-tech hoopla. Main Streets are being spruced up and everybody's roots are being explored, State Centennial Commission executive secretary Putnam Barber said.
The celebration will be a patchwork of hundreds of local events rather than a grand state production - a plan that reflects the state's populist distrust of anything centralized, Barber added with a chuckle.
It's designed as a celebration of history and diversity, creativity and a little bit of Old West hell-raising.
It'll be hard not to notice:
- Imagine a relay race with 5,000 runners retracing the 500-mile Idaho-to-the-sea Lewis and Clark Trail in just eight days.
- Olympic-style amateur athletic games are set for Spokane and Wenatchee, with a total of 6,000 particants.
- Wagon trains, quilting bees, parsons preaching in 1880s garb and city councils dressed in the style of the year of their town's incorporation all will add to the color.
- Folks in Aberdeen are building tall ships, and Indians are carving dugout canoes for maritime festivals. "Wings Over Washington" will be a one-day fly-over by hundreds of airplanes.
- Among many centennial construction projects and restorations is Tacoma's $20 million re-do of Union Station.
- Ethnic minorities and their role in state history will be honored in dozens of ways, including a major new exhibit on Indian culture at the University of Washington next April and "Seasons of Life," a touring museum exhibit focusing on Pacific Rim cultures.
- Artists performing at festivals through the year include such acts as the Peking Acrobats and Pacific Chautauqua, a performing arts showcase with both Washington and Pacific Rim artists. Seattle's International Film Festival will be expanded.
- Washington's history will be a yearlong focus in the schools, and students will recreate the state's constitutional convention.
- Newspapers are being asked to reprint their first edition.