GUTHRIE, Okla. (AP) _ After riding into Guthrie on a vintage railroad train, dignitaries took part Thursday in a ceremonial session of the Legislature, part of a two-day celebration that will culminate with a re-enactment of Oklahoma becoming a state 100 years ago.
Oklahoma joined the Union on Nov. 16, 1907. Guthrie was the state's first capital.
Many of those taking part in Thursday's festivities wore turn-of-century clothing _ the men in top hats and tails and the women in long dresses and feathery hats.
The “Centennial Express” chugged out of Oklahoma City's downtown Santa Fe Depot at 10:06 a.m. with about 400 lawmakers, state officials and others on board 10 rail cars for the 45-minute trip to Guthrie.
Gov. Brad Henry, his wife, Kim Henry, and two of their three daughters, Baylee, 8, and Laynie, 14, were among the last people to board the train.
“We brought the kids, because I can't think of a better way for them to experience history than to re-enact it,” Henry said. “It's very, very exciting.”
“This is an important event and an important time in Oklahoma,” Henry said later as he addressed House and Senate members meeting in a joint session in Legislative Hall, which is connected to the Scottish Rite Temple.
“The state's centennial has awakened great pride in Oklahomans and we must carry that with us” into the state's second century, the governor said.
Lt. Gov. Jari Askins presided over the session, which included Secretary of State Susan Savage presenting the State Seal to Guthrie Mayor Chuck Burtcher for display during the Statehood Day celebration.
House Speaker Lance Cargill, Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan and Senate Co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee gave brief remarks.
All but four Senate members and 17 House members attended the session. The Legislature has 149 members, 48 senators and 101 representatives.
Lawmakers heard from three high school students who represented members of the Constitutional Convention. One of them, a former Confederate officer, criticized the proposal for a referendum and initiative petition process giving voters a way to vote on issues.
“The next thing you know, we'll be voting on cockfighting,” lamented the Civil War veteran. Oklahoma outlawed cockfighting in a statewide vote in 2002.
Lawmakers also heard an address by President Theodore Roosevelt, played by history teacher Richard Lemin. Roosevelt signed the proclamation making Oklahoma the 46th state.
The train arrived in Guthrie at 10:53 a.m. to a colorful scene. The Guthrie High School band performed, and young women dressed as temperance workers chanted, “No saloons in our state! Keep Oklahoma dry!” and “Say no to demon rum and yes to Prohibition.” Prohibition lasted in Oklahoma from statehood to 1959.
Speaking to hundreds of people from a platform at the Santa Fe Depot, Burtcher quipped, “It's been 97 years since we've had so many politicians in Guthrie.
“It all started here,” he said. “You can't walk down a street of Guthrie that history doesn't ooze out of every brick and every rock. Remember, Oklahoma is rising and you are at the launching pad.”
Horse-drawn carriages were waiting at the depot for the governor, lieutenant governor and other state officials. All the lawmakers participated in a parade down Oklahoma Avenue, which serves as Guthrie's main street.
The day's activities concluded with an outdoor ceremony performed by members of Oklahoma's 39 recognized tribes, commemorating the “sunset” of the state's first 100 years and the “sunrise” to the next century.
On Friday, Guthrie will be the setting for the re-enactment of Statehood Day events, including the announcement of the presidential proclamation, the gubernatorial inauguration, the inaugural parade and a ceremonial wedding between Miss Indian Territory and Mr. Oklahoma Territory.
Guthrie was the capital of Oklahoma until the seat of state government was moved to Oklahoma City in 1910.
The “Centennial Spectacular'” at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City will climax today's celebration, featuring scheduled performances by such Oklahoma entertainers as Vince Gill, Reba McIntire, Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and The Flaming Lips.