OK celebrates centennial in original state capital

Guthrie_One century ago today, the land known as Indian Territory became the 46th state to join the union.  And, just like in 1907, thousands gathered in Guthrie - Oklahoma's original capital.  It was a statehood celebration, a huge party with an estimated 60-100 thousand in attendance.

On a bright and windy morning on November 16, 1907 US President Theodore Roosevelt signed the proclamation declaring Oklahoma the newest state in the Union.  A short time later, Oklahoma's first Governor was sworn in on the steps of the Carnegie Library in downtown Guthrie.

100 years ago people reportedly climbed trees to witness the momentous occasion.  They didn't go that far Friday, but finding a place to watch the statehood reenactment was not an easy task - people were packed curb to curb.  Edward Haskell played the role of his great, great grandfather Charles Haskell - Oklahoma's first state Governor.

"Statehood is the natural heritage of the modern people," said Haskell, speaking as the former governor.  "Not a condition to be obtained as the beggar who seeks alms."  Haskell says Oklahomans should be proud.  "It's accomplished a lot in 100 years," he says.  The joining of Indian and Oklahoma Territories was carried out symbolically with a wedding between Miss Indian Territory and Mr. Oklahoma Territory.

And, what better way to celebrate our grand land than with a big parade through the capital city.  Centennial Director Blake Wade says it's been a long time coming.  "This Guthrie parade is what Oklahoma is all about," he says.  "Today has been so great having our American Indians join in, our African Americans and everyone being together is just a great happy time."

And Wade says if you missed it, you really missed it.  There were antique cars, horse and small horse drawn carriages and the Lawton Rangers.  Not to mention all the bands - including the OSU and Altus High School Marching Bands.  And, just like on statehood day, the people of Oklahoma were treated to a free meal.

The original meal was a hunk of bread, beef and a pickle.  And, one by one, in 2007, tens of thousands lined up to be a part of the feast and know they were also becoming a part of history.  While this day represents a celebration of Oklahoma's first 100 years, Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins reminded crowds that this is also the first step toward celebrating Oklahoma's second century of statehood - we can only hope that the party in 2107 will be as grand as Fridays.

The statehood celebrations continue Friday night with the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular.  Some of the state's most famous musicians will play live at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.  The concert will be aired live on OETA starting at 7pm.