Residents of the tiny mountain hamlets of Pine and Strawberry sometimes jokingly refer to themselves as “Pine Cones” as tribute to their laid back lifestyles.
While “Pine Cones” might sometimes fit, residents can also morph into Whirling Dervishes of enthusiasm.
Such was the case July 9 when enthusiastic townspeople, including the Pine/Strawberry Historical Society, Pine Library, LDS church and a bevy of pioneers, hosted a hometown centennial celebration in honor of Arizona’s 100th birthday.
The day began with a parade on Randall Drive that many called the finest in history.
Pine Boy Scout Troop 562 proudly led the parade carrying Arizona, United States, Boy Scout and Cub Scout flags.
What followed was a feast for parade-lovers’ eyes, including a Pine Library float, Pine-Strawberry Fire Department trucks, a myriad of ATVs, quads and side-by-sides piloted by members of the Rim Country Trails Association, historic farm tractors, a handful of horseback riders, business floats, antique cars driven by town pioneers and a group of about 60 clowns whose antics left a gaggle of onlookers giggling.
Parade official Junetta Clifford said the clowns were a last-minute entry.
Following the parade, the crowd roamed around town readying themselves for an afternoon deep-pit barbecue cooked by Albert Hunt, the town’s renowned cowboy cook.
First-timers marveled at Hunt’s trademark feast of barbecue beef and cowboy beans.
During the afternoon under the town ramada, the historical society hosted a variety of games that drew children of all ages. Meanwhile in the Cultural Hall, programs on the history of the two towns and state drew crowds. The day of celebration and joy wrapped up with a western-themed dance.
The local band Junction 87 provided lively toe-tapping, country-style music that drew young and old to the dance floor to enjoy barn dances, two-stepping, line dances and West Coast swings.
At the end of the day, volunteers from around the two communities gathered to clean up and rehash the day’s events.
Most agreed, the celebration was an overwhelming success.
But volunteers also said they were dog tired. One elderly volunteer walking out the Cultural Hall door, turned to let out a sigh of relief and said, “It was fun, but I’m glad we don’t have to do it for another 100 years.”