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May 23, 2012

Residents celebrate Chandler Centennial during three days of festivities

Photos from the Centennial Celebration WeekendThe City of Chandler celebrated its 100th birthday on May 17, 2012, with birthday cake, singing and confetti, followed by two more days of family-friendly events that were attended by several thousand residents.

The festivities began on Thursday afternoon, with the “Happy 100th Birthday, Chandler!” party at City Hall. Attendees enjoyed free food, history presentations, and musical entertainment by students from Basha Elementary School, Chandler High School, and the Chandler Centennial Choir. Longtime resident Corley Haggarton spoke to the crowd about Dr. A.J. Chandler and the founding of the community. Several former Mayors were in attendance, including Boyd Dunn, Jerry Brooks, Jim Patterson, and Kenny Thomas.

When Mayor Jay Tibshraeny addressed the audience, he shared portions of a letter he wrote to the Mayor of Chandler in 2062. The letter is one of the many items that will be sealed within the Centennial Time Capsule, which was unveiled at the event. The Mayor also thanked the many sponsors who contributed to the Centennial fund, which greatly minimized the amount of public funds used for the celebration.

Thursday evening concluded with the singing of “Happy Birthday” and recognition for the winners of the Centennial cake decorating contests. Chandler resident Tenay Travis won the individual contest, while the Bashas’ Family of Stores contest honors were shared by two stores, Food City at Arizona Avenue and Ray Road, and Bashas’ at Gilbert and Chandler Heights roads.

Day two featured an expanded version of the monthly Art Walk in downtown Chandler. The “100 Artists Celebrating 100 Years” festival attracted a large crowd on Friday evening for music on three stages, food vendors, and art and crafts booths. In addition to history displays, the Art Walk included the debut of “Southside Neighborhood: 100 Years of Recipes and Stories,” a cookbook with a mix of history and recipes from families who lived in a small neighborhood south of the downtown area. Several hundred people waited in line for their free copy of the book autographed by former Mayor Coy Payne, who grew up in the neighborhood. The book is also online at

On Saturday, the Centennial Celebration Weekend culminated with the Chandler Bash of the Century at Tumbleweed Park. Thousands of residents enjoyed an old-fashioned picnic in the park, with musical entertainment, food and merchandise vendors, a Family Fun Zone and a fireworks finale. Throughout the evening, dozens of children, teens and adults competed in classic games, like the balloon toss and pie eating contests hosted by the Chandler Recreation Division. 

One portion of the park, Tumbleweed Ranch, serves as a celebration of Chandler’s agricultural roots. That is where members of the Chandler Future Farmers of America (FFA) shared information about farm animals and crop production. The East Valley Model T Ford Club had several cars on display at the Ranch, and the East Valley Astronomy Club provided visitors with spectacular telescopic views of the sun and the stars.

Another event highlight was the judging of the Whiskerino contest. Competitors started growing their whiskers on Feb.7, 2012, and were judged 102 days later for beard length, shape, color, and creativity. The team of Sun Lakes Pest Control defeated Team Splendid Hair Studios for the top prize.

“We had an amazing three days here in Chandler,” Mayor Tibshraeny said. “I heard from so many residents who shared with me how proud they are to be living here in Chandler. It was a celebration worthy of this great community.”

Centennial organizers, who have been planning for the big celebration for more than two years, say they are pleased with the results of their efforts. 

“Everything we’ve done so far has been building towards May 17th and the Celebration Weekend, and it was gratifying to see so many Chandler residents come out to honor their home town,” said Centennial Coordinator Jean Reynolds. “I think families will reminisce about this past weekend for years to come.”

Mayor Tibshraeny agrees, adding “I think about my daughter, Lauren, and the other young people who were there this weekend and realize that many of them will likely be at the City’s 150th birthday party in 2062.” He then joked, “Maybe, with the help of modern medicine and a little luck, I’ll join them.”

Chandler’s Centennial commemoration continues through the end of 2012. Go to for details on upcoming events and history presentations.