By Teya Vitu
Happy Birthday, Tucson!
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That means it’s time to celebrate. And 4th Avenue, Main Gate Square and the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum are in a mood to throw a party. The designated birthday for Tucson’s foundation as a Spanish fort is Aug. 20, 1775, but that’s a Monday. So party time was moved up to Saturday, Aug. 18. 4th Avenue and Main Gate have joined forces for a Tropical Night Beach Birthday Bash that will unfold on University Boulevard and 4th Avenue from 5 to 9 p.m. Everyone gets a lei to get in the tropical spirit. “It is an amazing way to connect these great entertainment districts that will soon be connected by the modern streetcar,” said Jane McCollum, general manager of the Marshall Foundation, which owns Main Gate Square. Main Gate also will be celebrating completion of streetcar track installation on University Boulevard. The fences at Main Gate square are scheduled to come down just the day before the birthday bash. “Come on down and enjoy the new streetcar tracks,” McCollum said. “You can enjoy an authentic urban experience.” Main Gate will have “some sort of water inflatable,” face painting, balloon artists, a clown free birthday cake and live music in Geronimo Plaza. Merchants at Main Gate and 4th Avenue will have their own events and many are offering 237 specials (the elapsed years since 1775). “That could be 2 for $37 specials or 23.7 percent off or $2.37,” said Kurt Tallis, marketing and events director at the 4th Avenue Merchants Association. Three of the four bands playing on 4th Avenue will be north of 6th Street and thus not within the streetcar construction zone south of 6th Street. As at Main Gate, visitors can check out the newly installed streetcar tracks on the Avenue between University Boulevard and 6th Street. The bands will be outside Chocolate Iguana, Delectables and Magpies. The fourth band will be on the Winsett Stage, next to Rustic Candle. You will be hearing Tallis refer to Winsett as “The Mike” in honor of Mike Haggerty, who passed away just before he was supposed to grand marshal this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Winsett will be rededicated the Mike Haggerty Plaza in the coming months, and Tallis is already lobbying for the official nickname of The Mike. “We will have the Famous Wheel of 4ortune at The Mike,” Tallis said. People can win free t-shirts or gift certificates to Avenue stores. “Everybody wins something. That’s why it’s famous.” Earlier in the day, the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum at the Historic Depot, 414 N. Toole Ave., will bring a railroad theme to its birthday celebration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bill Paul and the Southern Comfort Band and the Christ Community Church Choir will perform in the hour before Mayor Jonathan Rothschild’s 11 a.m. proclamation. Some antique 1920s automobiles will be outside the museum as will a model train set. A second model train will run inside the Historic Depot lobby. Inside, you can see the new Garden scale model train running on elevated tracks above the exhibits. The museum’s showpiece attraction, Locomotive No. 1673, has a newly painted cab and the headlight is shinier, reports museum chairman Ken Karrels. Along with all the museum attractions, real life Union Pacific Railroad trains are bound to thunder by during your visit. “Not only can you watch the trains but you can also ring he bell in Engine 1673,” Karrels said.