Looking back at the Tucson birthday and underpass celebration on Thursday, Aug. 20, I feel conflicted that I didn't get to the festivities in time to see Mayor Bob Walkup sporting his gray formal top hat for the ribbon cutting.
I went out of my way that day to pick up my son and bring him along, figuring a bit of history was being made. As crazy as it sounds to some, my 8-year-old son loves Tucson. The idea of celebrating its birthday is cool to him. We even walked down the middle of the underpass before cars were allowed, giddy at the idea we were doing something we would never be able to do again (well, unless it's 3 a.m.).
Our late afternoon started with a walk down Fourth Avenue, a street we know well, because it's part of our neighborhood. We talked to a few people along the way, had hot dogs and gazed up at the tiki (my son was already complaining that he won't be able to go under it since it leads into a bar). I've been wondering if its Gitmo-styled head covering was to ease our landmark into his new home or prevent him from seeing what's really going on along Fourth Avenue—our own version of Lady Justice. I imagine it's coming off this Saturday when The Hut throws Mr./Ms. Tiki a welcome party. I'll be there for the unveiling and staying on to see the Mission Creeps.
As promised, here are some photos from last Thursday. We didn't get home until a little 9:30 p.m.
Question of the week: Is the Tiki a girl or boy?
Pat Brandenberg walked down Fourth Avenue quietly letting everyone know where she stands on healthcare. As I took her picture, my son asked her, "What are you?" "A Democrat," she replied. "Oh, I know those," he told her.
Here we go. I told Rafi this was the best way. "When will we get a chance to walk in the middle of the underpass again?"
Another view as we got to downtown. It was wonderful showing Rafi the Rialto Theater. We like to go see the kiddy bands they bring into town and I wanted him to see what a quick walk it will be for us now that we can take the underpass.
We watched a trolley come down Fourth and up into downtown. They worked all night bringing people downtown and back down Fourth Avenue.
This was the closest we got to birthday cake at Hotel Congress. The lines were long, and the place was packed. Then a friend made the mistake of telling us they were giving away ice cream at La Placita. Yep, our journey began to La Placita for free ice cream.
At La Placita, a guy in a shirt and tie passed out cups of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, and then we voted on our favorite custom Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Walking back from La Placita the sun was setting, but people were still walking everywhere. We caught the sexy leg/men in kilts contest in front of Flanagan's Celtic Corner on Congress. That was interesting and brought up plenty of opportunities to explain the difference to my son between traditional kilts (sexy) and man-skirts (sorry, not so sexy).
Lucky for me this bagpipe band was standing on the corner.
Snarling, but happy piano player in front of Tooleys. Earlier, Dinnerware next door, was a great place to bring the kiddies for painting projects set up on the sidewalk in front of the gallery.
Dave Slutes seemed pretty pleased as he stood in the middle of Hotel Congress' new patio out back taking in the crowd that came out for the party. The patio is nifty.
Those Dusty Buskers busking in the back of the Tap Room.
Stiltman balancing at Congress and Toole, while making balloon animals for children, like mine, out and about late on a school night just to wish Tucson a happy birthday.
Pretty kids grooving to the Buskers at Congress with their Stiltman creations.
Time to go home, but as we headed back to the underpass, we couldn't believe the number of people still coming through into downtown. Incredible.
We tried to catch a trolley home. It stopped, and the conductor popped out to say it was full.
Nothing like being reminded of regrets at the end of a good party. We never made it to have our portraits taken for the underpass project. As we noticed everyone looking for themselves, we mumbled to ourselves and bowed our heads wishing we had a chance to be a permanent part of this historic day.
Happy birthday, Tucson!