On Jan. 3, to welcome the Ohio State University Buckeyes in their Fiesta Bowl game against the University of Texas, the city of Buckeye, Ariz., will celebrate what city government has proclaimed "Buckeye Day."
Buckeye, Ariz. -- about 35 miles west of downtown Phoenix -- was founded in the 1880s. At its creation the city was known as Sidney, named after Sidney, Ohio, where one of the city's founders was originally from. In the early 1900s the city changed its name to Buckeye, after the Buckeye Canal which fed water to the cotton plants.
"Four years ago, OSU came out for the Fiesta Bowl and he wanted the town to do something. So one of the merchants, who was also on the council, stamped out 'Buckeye, Arizona Welcomes OSU' or something on a golf ball. I think he gave out like a 100 golf balls to people from Ohio who came out to Buckeye," Bob Bushner, public affairs officer for the city of Buckeye, said.
A year later the city repeated their promotion, giving t-shirts to anyone who showed an Ohio driver's license or an OSU alumni association membership card. Members from the Phoenix chapter of the OSU alumni association band played for about 300 Ohio natives who came out to join them.
"Two years ago when they came out for the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) championship, we did it again," Bushner said, noting the attendance had grown again, to nearly 2,000 people.
He said so many Ohio natives were lined up for free t-shirts so long, the city bought them all pizza.
This year the city does it again on Jan. 3 -- the weekend before the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. The city will have gift bags for Ohio residents, with Buckeye pins, water bottles, and Buckeye candies. A banner will run across the main thoroughfare in town that welcomes the team to their state, and fans can have their pictures taken with it while they're there.
An OSU flag will fly over the Buckeye Valley Chamber of Commerce, and also at the top of the city's ladder fire truck.
"We'll have a dart-toss, with the logo of the Texas Longhorns as the target. We've also got a set of bull horns, and they're going to be playing a 'rope the longhorns' game, and several other games. It's just something to try to connect with the people coming in for the game," Bushner said.
He said the city has "unofficially adopted the Buckeyes coming in from Ohio State."
The event begins at noon on Jan. 3, in the Town Park located at Ninth Street and Monroe, in the downtown district. Tours will be available at the nearby Buckeye Valley Museum, and the alumni association will be selling OSU merchandise. The day ends at 5 p.m. For more information about Buckeyes in Buckeye Day celebration, call the Buckeye, Ariz., Chamber of Commerce office at (632) 386-2727.