CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A 2-mile parade full of floats and distinguished guests snaked through the Capital City on July 23, 1890.
Just under two weeks after Wyoming officially became the nation’s 44th state, hundreds attended the formal celebration of statehood outside the State Capitol.
The day was packed with speeches, fireworks and “all the pomp and ceremony of a mighty state,” according to the Cheyenne Daily Sun’s recount of the event.
But the paper’s headline put it even more succinctly: “A GREAT DAY,” it read in all caps at the top of the page.
Tom Cole, a fourth-generation Wyomingite, said Friday was another great day. He joined the hundreds of others in attendance for a similar ceremony to mark the 125th anniversary of Wyoming’s statehood.
“It makes you proud,” he said. “Wyoming is special because if you see someone with a Wyoming hat or Wyoming license plate, you are bound to know that person or at least know someone who knows them.”
Like at the 1890 celebration, there were music, games, fireworks and other activities outside the Capitol and on the lawns of Barrett Building and Wyoming Supreme Court.
Special exhibits tracing Wyoming’s history also were featured in the State Museum and the State Archives.
Even the state’s original, handwritten Constitution made an appearance at the Archives. It had not been displayed in public for more than 25 years.
Bill Harris is a Cheyenne resident who has lived in Wyoming since 1963. He said it’s important to remember and celebrate how the state got to where it is today.
He said he instantly fell in love with Wyoming when he first stepped within its borders in the 1950s.
“I was here visiting Yellowstone in 1956 or 1957,” he told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (https://bit.ly/1HlCrVu). “I thought, ‘This is the type of place where I want to live.’”
Current and former state leaders kicked off Friday’s festivities with remarks from the steps of the Capitol - the same place where the state’s founders gave their speeches in 1890.
“One hundred and twenty five years ago, people celebrated as we are doing today,” Gov. Matt Mead said.
“They celebrated statehood, and they celebrated the wonderful Wyoming Constitution that was the first to guarantee women voting rights, and just that is enough to celebrate.”
Mead was joined by former Govs. Dave Freudenthal and Jim Geringer, and U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, both R-Wyo.
Enzi, noting the number of children in the audience, said he is optimistic for Wyoming’s next 25, 50 or even 125 years.
“The quest for the future is still with us,” he said. “This is a state of dreamers who look to what needs to be done and do it better than any other state.”
Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com
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