I See Dead People
"Meet Tucson's Pioneers" Cemetery Tour
9 a.m., Saturday, March 19
Holy Hope Cemetery
3555 N. Oracle Road
Learning more about Tucson history can be as easy as going to the cemetery.
"Meet Tucson's Pioneers" is an Arizona Historical Society tour that takes attendees through Holy Hope Cemetery to learn about the people who helped shape the early city.
"If you don't know where you've been, you don't know where you're going," said Ginny Ginn, a re-enactor who takes on the character of Mercedes Shibell, a mid-19th-century Tucson girl who was kidnapped by Apaches at the age of 10.
Ginn is one of eight re-enactors who will each take on the persona of a different Tucson pioneer.
"Mercedes is a 10-year-old Mexican girl, and I'm an old white woman," Ginn said. "It's challenging. A lot of work goes into it, because you want to know as many details as you can."
The tour requires six months of preparation, and most of the re-enactors are Historical Society tour guides and volunteers who are well-versed on the pioneers they are portraying, said Betty Cook, a historian and tour organizer.
The preparation is well-received by the public, as the tour sees crowds of more than 150 patrons each year, she said.
"Anybody who's interested in history, they're hooked," Cook said.
Following the tour, Cook will lead a discussion on the symbols and art of old tombstones for tour-goers who pay an extra $5. Symbols on old grave markers can tell people a lot about the buried, she said. For example, if a lamb or rosebud is present on the tombstone, the grave probably belongs to a dead child.
Attendees who want to know more about the pioneers can stay afterward and talk one-on-one with the re-enactors.
The tour costs $10 per person. Please call to RSVP by Friday, March 18. —S.B.
A Jazzy Good Time
Oro Valley Arts in the Park Fine Art and Jazz Festival
9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, March 20
Cañada Del Oro Riverfront Park
551 W. Lambert Lane
Oro Valley's Arts in the Park is the longest-running festival put on by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, and organizers take pride in the family-friendly event with music, food and art.
The 15 year-old, twice-a-year event will this time include a special focus on local jazz performers, said Jonas Hunter, special events director for SAACA. The performers will reflect various aspects of the jazz sound, from piano to guitar, at the three-day festival.
"Tucson has a great mix of jazz performers," Hunter said, "and there will be a whole mishmash of different performers."
A large part of SAACA's nonprofit mission is to support and provide a platform for local art and culture, and that includes local jazz musicians, said Chelsey Killebrew, communication specialist for SAACA.
"It's something fun and free for people in the community," she said.
The festival is not just about jazz music, though. Killebrew said Arts in the Park will also offer children's activities like face-painting and balloon-twisting, as well as a variety of food. Local artists sell their artwork, including paintings, photography and ceramics.
The festival is a favorite for residents; it's the most popular event for SAACA, which coordinates more than 100 events each year, Killebrew said.
Arts in the Park usually brings in about 6,000 attendees for each festival, Hunter said.
Jazz musicians slated to perform include Matt Mitchell, Larry Redhouse, Jesse Tovar and UA School of Music professor Jay Rees, he said.
Arts in the Park is free and open to the public. —S.B.
Biking and Competing, Costumes Optional
Urban Assault Ride 2011
9 a.m., Sunday, March 20
Starts at Maynards Market and Kitchen400 N. Toole Ave.
Spend a Sunday morning with ladybugs, fairies, superheroes and zombies at the New Belgium Urban Assault Ride 2011.
The bike scavenger hunt pits teams of two people—many of whom are in costume—against each other as they battle through activities such as human-bowling or bike-jousting in a course covering 25 to 35 miles.
"It's like being a kid again," said Sharon Cutler, a spokesperson for the Urban Assault Ride. "It reminds you how much fun it is to get on your bike and have a good time and be silly and laugh and forget about everything you are doing in your own life."
Although New Belgium Beer sponsors the event, the ride is open to participants as young as 7. Cutler has participated three times with her children.
"It's just so different and just so out of the ordinary, and that makes it fun," she said.
The Old Pueblo event drew 550 riders last year, and Urban Assault Ride is expecting 1,000 riders on Sunday. Tucson is home to the first of 10 rides in various cities this year.
"Tucson just seemed like a really positive place to start the season," Cutler said.
Cutler said participants who aren't big bicyclists need not worry. Riders are only on their bikes for a couple of miles at a time before they need to stop for an obstacle. There are prizes for the top finishers, but Cutler said most people just come out to have fun.
"Sometimes you go to a race, and everyone is uptight," Cutler said. "But here, people should expect a ton of fun."
Registration online ends Friday, March 18; visit the website for check-in details. The event costs $60 per person, with proceeds going to WOW Arizona! —J.W.
Elemental Artistry's Spring Equinox Community Celebration
6:30 to 11 p.m., Sunday, March 20
Sky Bar536 N. Fourth Ave.
As winter turns to spring, fire comes to Sky Bar on Fourth Avenue.
Elemental Artistry, a Tucson-based fire-dance troupe, puts on shows on the bar's patio every week. But the group does more than just dance with burning batons and hula hoops when the seasons change.
"For the spring equinox, we also try to put in our show what that time of the season means," said Michelle Larson, of Elemental Artistry. "We try to give people an opportunity to be part of what it means to be a Tucsonan."
The spring show will feature capoeira, African dancers and aerial aerobatics.
"We are a fire-performance group that focuses on being fun, family-friendly and community-oriented," Larson said. "We want to be able to use multidimensional dance and performance art to give our audience something that's awe-inspiring, that's thrilling, that's inspiring and that's positive."
Larson began co-leading the group in 2008. Then Elemental Artistry "took on a new life."
"I think there are a lot of great performers out there," she said. "I think what sets us apart is our focus on positive inspiration. It's not a creepy, dark art. It's a positive inspiration of artistry and life."
The group hosts Sunday-morning classes at the Dance Loft for those who want to learn more about fire-dancing. Larson said every class and every show allows people to participate in rather than just watch.
"We really love to get the audience participating, dancing, hanging out and being a part of the show," she said. "It's not just something for us. It's something for the community."
The performance is free and open to all ages. —J.W.