September 11, 2004
Gilbert will hold the area’s largest U.S. Constitution celebration during the next week featuring fireworks, flyovers, patriotic music and replicas that include a new 31-foot-tall Washington Monument.
On Sunday, Gilbert officially kicks off its Constitution Week celebration with "Tribute to the Founders," including a visit from John and Abigail Adams interpreters. After a series of midweek events, the celebration will conclude Sept. 18 with the third-annual Constitution Fair, which is expected to attract more than 8,000 people to Highland High School.
"People are hungry for this, they want to feel that patriotism," said Dave Petersen, Gilbert Constitution Week committee co-chairman and a Town Council member.
The fair will feature replicas of the White House, U.S. Capitol, U.S. Supreme Court, Independence Hall and the Washington Monument built by committee co-chairman Bill Norton.
Norton, also chairman of the state Constitutional Commemoration Committee, said his research leads him to believe that Gilbert will host the largest event in the country. The Congress established National Constitution Week from Sept. 17-23 to commemorate the signing of the document on Sept. 17, 1787.
"The whole reason I’m doing this is I have a passion for the Constitution and the fundamental principles for liberty, and I want to teach them to the public," Norton said.
In 2002, Gilbert attracted between 3,500 and 4,000 to its first celebration. Last year, that rose to between 5,000 and 6,000. This year’s projections are between 8,000 and 10,000, Petersen said.
Gilbert may have the East Valley’s largest celebration, but Mesa has the oldest. Mesa Constitution Celebration committee member Leilani Haws said this will be the city’s 28th annual program.
"We want everyone across the nation to do this," Haws said.
Mesa’s main celebration will be Monday at the Mesa Amphitheatre featuring a family picnic, music and patriotic show.
Sunday: Tribute to the Founders, 7 p.m. at Gilbert High School, 1101 E. Elliot Road
Sept. 18: Constitution Fair, 6 to 9:30 p.m., Highland High School, 4301 E. Guadalupe Road
Monday: 28th annual Constitution Celebration, 6 to 8 p.m. at Mesa Amphitheatre, 201 N. Center St.
Sept. 18: Choral Program, 7:30 p.m., Living Word Bible Church, 3520 E. Brown Road