ARLINGTON -- Fifty years ago this weekend, on Aug. 5, 1961, Six Flags Over Texas welcomed its first guests.
It was the first regional theme park in the world, park personnel say, and today it is the flagship of a 19-park chain spread across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Concerts, giveaways and other special events this weekend will mark the occasion, capping a summer of golden anniversary events that have celebrated the park's history.
Texas country-music favorite Pat Green will perform at 7 tonight, and on Sunday morning one of 50 guests selected throughout the summer will win a new Chevrolet Camaro sports coupe.
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The final "Celebrate Texas" anniversary show will take place Sunday evening at the gates, featuring the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in a colorful tribute to Six Flags' legacy. The show has been running since the park's full-day season opening in June.
"What I've enjoyed is walking around the park and seeing guests looking at the photos we have around the park," spokeswoman Sharon Parker said. "You can hear them sharing with the younger generation what that ride was and how much fun it was."
Parker, a Six Flags "newbie" hired in 2007, said she has enjoyed the summerlong history lesson.
"It's hard for me to walk anywhere without stopping for someone to tell me an 'I remember' story," Parker said. "I love that."
The nostalgic look back continues through Aug. 13 at the University of Texas at Arlington Library Special Collections exhibit, "What You Wish the World Could Be: The Early Years of Six Flags Over Texas."
Photographs, guests' reminiscences and memorabilia are part of the free public exhibit, sponsored by Six Flags and the university. Visitors will get a chance to record their thoughts and memories about the park at the exhibit.
The exhibit is on the sixth floor of the UT Arlington Central Library, 702 Planetarium Place.
For more information, call 817-272-2179.
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657