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Arizona celebrates its 105th birthday with Old Tucson Studios

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Kirshana Guy | The Daily Wildcat

Actors at Old Tucson Studios perform a stunt demonstration show on Feb. 11. The day was dedicated to celebrating Arizona's 105th birthday.

Approximately 1,000 people visited Old Tucson Studios on Feb. 11, to partake in the wild west and celebrate 105 years of independence for the Grand Canyon State.

According to the Office of the Governor, the land in Arizona’s boundary was overflowing with gold, silver, copper and other minerals that yielded the attention of prospectors in the late 1880s, though there are decades of historical events occurring before this time. As towns began to form, prospectors were literally striking gold, or finding other means of support through pioneering. As the years passed, The United States Marshals molded the land into a peaceful territory, implementing the importance of crops, cattle and sheep, and mining for the sake of the state’s future. Therefore, on Feb. 14, 1912, Arizona became state 48 of 50. 

Chuck and Sandra Jordan, part-time residents of Tombstone, Arizona, were originally from Ontario, Canada. They decided to dress in proper western attire and celebrate the state’s birthday at Old Tucson Studios, located on 201 Kinney Rd. 

“It is our first time here, so I find it amazing,” Sandra Jordan said.“There are not enough cowboys though,” she added, commenting on the ambiance. 

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Her husband agreed and said the event needed more participants dressed up like they were. 

“You would not believe the people that were taking our picture,” Sandra Jordan said about the time they spent walking around dressed in their western clothes. 

Chuck Jordan said it is common to see individuals dressing up in Tombstone, and mentioned that next weekend is Tombstone Vigilante Days, with street entertainment, an 1880s fashion show and much, much more. 

Bob McLaughlin, an employee of Old Tucson, shared that there was an attendance of approximately 1,100 people for Arizona’s birthday on Feb. 11. McLaughlin has worked at Old Tucson for approximately four months, and oversaw the shooting gallery on Saturday. 

“I have been working the shooting gallery quite a bit, and this is the busiest day so far,” McLaughlin said. 

Austin Buchanan, a  performer at Old Tucson, has spent eight years entertaining the many crowds that flock to the old west. Buchanan said that he started with the Halloween event, Nightfall. 

“In my opinion, one of the best entertainment jobs in Tucson is working at Old Tucson,” Buchanan said.

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Caleb Evans, also an entertainer, has been an employee since October 2016. Evans shared what drew him to work for Old Tucson. 

“I wanted to be a stuntman,” he said. “I grew up around here. I came and saw the cowboys falling off roofs and stuff, so I came here for stunts.”

He said you can see many things happen during the different performances between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Old Tucson. 

“I realized there is a lot of acting that comes with it too, so it has been a lot of work; but I want to get shot and die and jump off stuff,” Evans said.

Ty Anaya has been an entertainer at Old Tucson for five years. Anaya decided to apply for the job because he was interested in film, and the best opportunity for film acting is set in Old Tucson. 

Buchanan said that the celebration for Arizona’s birthday was a successful turnout. The parade, which went down the main road with flags, stagecoaches and horses, drew quite the crowd of onlookers. 

Sandy Wagner, a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, decided to visit Old Tucson after hearing about the village at the Gem and Mineral Show. 

“I didn’t know anything about that,” Wagner said about the celebration of Arizona’s birthday at Old Tucson.

Anaya said that their were large crowds for the performances, such as The Hanged Man. The Hanged Man was based on a 1974 film where a gunfighter helps a young widow who is attempting to keep a callous land baron from taking her ranch. This film was shot right there in the little town of Old Tucson. 

There are 30-minute guided tours available, which allow visitors to explore the historic streets that many movie and television stars have been filmed on since 1939. 

The next event at Old Tucson is Civil War Days on Feb. 18 and 19. For more information, go to www.oldtucson.com.


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