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Fun Fact: How has UNT celebrated Texas Independence Day?

Texas Centenial pageant 1934(Editor's Note: Texas celebrates its 176th birthday March 2. Enter to win a new "A green light to greatness" gift pack by sending an email to InHouse with "Texas 2012" in the subject line by 5 p.m. March 2, 2012. Winners will be selected at random from all responses. Remember the Alamo.)

Texas celebrates its 176th birthday March 2, commemorating the day in 1836 that Texas declared its independence from Mexico. What events have marked Texas Independence Day at UNT?

A. Alumna Norah Jones played a free concert in the Murchison Performing Arts Center.

B. A re-enactment of history events was staged on campus.

C. Alumnus Larry McMurtry spoke at a seminar on arts and literature.

D. The Mean Green spring football game was held at Fouts Field.

The correct answer is B and C.

On  Aug. 14, 1934, crowds gathered to celebrate the Texas Centennial, said Perri Hamilton, assistant to the University Archivist:

“Some 900 spectators witnessed The Texas Centennial Pageant, held on the site of the first football field, roughly where Willis Library is now, above. The program was divided into episodes that followed the history of the state: The Tejas Indians, Austin’s Colony, The Alamo, The Declaration of Independence, The Battlefield of San Jacinto, The Southern Confederacy, The Reconstruction Period, Texas Centennial.” Participants included students from UNT and Texas Woman’s University, and Denton residents.

“There was a stage, 60 feet wide, in the center of the performance area where the choir was seated and the dramatic dialog took place,” she said. “In front of the stage was a parade ground that was used to show enactments of the history being presented on the stage.  At the end of the program the audience witnessed Texas history in a frieze 160 feet long, with the central picture depicting modern Texas.“

Why 1934? The Texas Declaration of Independence was issued by the Convention of 1836, and the document is signed March 2, 1836. But rumors of revolution had been floating around the prairie for several years, and in 1834, the Mexican government sent Col. Juan Nepomuceno Almonte to Texas to gauge the likelihood of secession or revolt. 

So Texans, mindful of their history and perhaps looking for some fun during the Depression, began planning centennial events in 1934. Gov. Miriam Ferguson signed a proclamation naming the week of Aug. 13, 1934 as Texas Centennial Week

The Texas Centennial Commission also was created in 1934, and in 1935, the Texas Legislature approved funds for centennial festivities.

In September 1986, UNT hosted the Governor’s Sesquicentennial Conference on the Literary Arts. Alumnus and Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize and Oscar winner Horton Foote and Oscar winner Robert Duvall were among the attendees.   

Below, the campus re-enactment portrays Stephen F. Austin and colonists, in a photo from the 1935 Yucca yearbook.

 This story was originally published in 2011.

Texas Centennial pageant 1934

Posted on: Sun 26 February 2012

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