Two major milestones were reached Saturday in the smallest incorporated town in Arizona.
Winkelman celebrated its 100th birthday and the second ore cart in the Copper Corridor’s Ore Cart Trail was revealed and officially welcomed to the Winkelman Wall Park at the intersection of Highways 77 and 177.
The Ore Cart dedication was first on the event list Saturday.
After a welcome and introductions, dignitaries including Winkelman Mayor Louis C. Bracamonte, Gila County Supervisor John Marcanti, Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios and Ore Cart Project Manager Bill Bolin (Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition) all spoke about the project and what it means to Winkelman and the whole Copper Corridor.
“A Penny for Your Thoughts” was selected many years ago by the community members of Winkelman. The cart, designed by renowned artist Nancy Dunst, has the load of giant copper pennies being upended out of the bucket, much the way copper ore was discharged.
Dunst lives in Sedona and has enjoyed a great career. She was commissioned by Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, shown at the Phoenix Art Museum and was invited to the Biennale Internazionale Dell’Arte Contemporanca in Florence, Italy. She was also one of the first artists to receive the Sedona Project Grant from the Sedona Arts and Culture Commission.
The Ore Cart Trail is one of the first projects started by the Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition. It began as a way to promote tourism by creating public art pieces to encourage visitors to stop and enjoy each cart as they travelled through the entire region. The first cart was installed in Mammoth in the Miners Memorial Park on Highway 77. Winkelman’s cart was part of a federal transportation funding program.
The Winkelman project team included Mayor Bracamonte, Winkelman Town Clerk Sylvia Kerlock, Dunst, Jeff Davidson of ADOT, Glenn Christensen of SKY Construction & Engineering, Jean-Marc R. Frelson of S.E. Consultants, Jake Jacobson of Copper Basin Railway, Joe Wilhelm of ASARCO, CCEDC President Elizabeth Magallanez, Bolin of STS and Mila Besich-Lira of Miracle Executive Services.
Following the official ribbon cutting with the ribbon and flowers donated by Rose’s Roses of Kearny and Superior and a short fellowship time at the Winkelman Wall Park, the festivities moved across the highway into the Winkelman Flats Public Park where the beer and wine garden was open and the horseshoe and 3-on-3 basketball tournaments were already underway.
David Lagunas served as the emcee for the event and with the Pledge of Allegiance and opening prayer, Mayor Bracamonte welcomed everyone to the Winkelman Centennial Celebration. State Senator Barbara McGuire presented and read a proclamation made by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The town then recognized and made special presentations to Mrs. Belen Cluff and Mrs. Ruby Jean Giorsetti.
Other speakers included: Buchanan Davis, a representative for Senator Jeff Flake; Carmen Casillas, State Representative candidate; Joe Wilhelm, ASARCO Plant Manager; Jake Jacobson, Copper Basin Railway; Sylvia Kerlock, Winkelman Town Clerk; Gene Jeffery, Past Winkelman Mayor; a representative of the Giorsetti family; Linda Chavez for Belen Cluff; Ralph “Snooky” Bologna, former Winkelman Flats resident; Teresita M. Olmos, former Winkelman Flats resident; Monica Badillo, Apodaca family representative; Nancy Humphry; and Duane Reece. Mayor Bracamonte read the names of past mayors of Winkelman and Lagunas gave a tribute to Alfred Marquez.
Entertainment for the day included local performers Rebeca Torrez, Luciano Romero and Johnny Angel Silva. DJs Tom Chestnut and Gabriel Hernandez rounded out the musical line up for the day.
A marvelous BBQ buffet lunch was served (something the publisher of the Copper Basin News enjoyed immensely) and the kids were kept busy in the Kids’ Zone with train rides, piñatas, rock climbing wall, bouncy houses and a mechanical bull.
There was truly something for everyone at Winkelman’s birthday bash.
And to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, “It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.” Happy birthday, Winkelman.