Originally Published: September 1, 2007 9:20 p.m.
CHINO VALLEY - Hundreds gathered for the 21st annual First Territorial Capital Days Saturday morning at Memory Park, enjoying a pancake breakfast and a short Western-themed parade with participants from across the tri-city area.
For the first time in years, the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce sponsored the traditional one-day event, which also featured the ever-popular Future Farmers of America Corn Dinner at Del Rio Elementary School and a street dance at the Senior Center parking lot. And although this year Chino Valley's Parks and Recreation Department did not play host to activities during the middle of the day for First Territorial Capital Days, as it has in the past, it did conduct a horseshoe tournament and open bocce play outside the Senior Center in the late morning and early afternoon.
In the parade, State Rep. Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, donning a cowboy shirt and jeans, served as the grand marshal. He dressed appropriately for the parade's theme, "Western Roots & Cowboy Roots."
Tobin helped celebrate the annual event that recognizes Chino Valley's heritage as Arizona's first official territorial capital, a title it earned on Dec. 23, 1863. (One year later, in 1864, the territorial capital moved to Prescott.)
On Saturday, Tobin rode the parade route in a horse-drawn carriage alongside Bob Kaecker, president of the Chino Valley School District.
"I was real flattered, of course, that they would ask me to be grand marshal, because I've never been one before," said Tobin, who has three children enrolled in Chino Valley public schools. "What I love about this is that here today you have people from Prescott, Prescott Valley. We're really lucky to have that unity among our communities."
The parade took about 40 minutes to complete and featured some 50 entries from across the tri-cities. Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Ab Jackson said he was pleased with the number of entrants and credited parade director Penny Hubble for her hard work.
"That's actually pretty good in a non-political year," said Jackson, who participated in his first parade as a child in 1958. "I liked the variety the most. It was high energy and very fast."
The closed-off, 1-mile parade route started at Memory Park off Butterfield Road and traveled due south down Road 1 West before cutting across to the west and concluding at Del Rio Elementary School off Road 2 North.
This year's parade followed the reverse path of the one in 2006, but it seemed a bit more comfortable for spectators who braved the upper-80-degree temperatures. The town pitched portable tents and canopies to provide shade for the length of the route.
In 2008, Jackson said the parade will shift to a different location in front of the Chino Valley Aquatic Center at 1525 N. Road 1 East.
"We're talking about a state softball tournament up here during the timeframe of the parade, so it will be a totally different kind of a deal," Jackson said.
On Saturday, parade participants decorated a float, car, horse, buggy, wagon or themselves in six separate competitive categories. Five prominent locals judged the entrants, including Town Engineer Ron Grittman. "I just love watching the kids go up and down the route," Grittman said. "There was a lot of community support, which is always wonderful to see."
Parade winners received a framed photo print of their own entry. The victors are as follows:
Commercial: Capital Title
Non-Commercial: Prescott Regulators & Their Shady Ladies
Marching: Franklin Phonetic School
Judges' Choice: Chino Valley High School band
Mounted Animals: Prescott Frontier Days Royalty
Classic Vehicles: Classic Cruisers.