The Durango Heritage Celebration has explored the community’s Victorian legacy, gone down with the Titanic, visited Greenmount Cemetery where the dead “talked” and solved a murder mystery or two.
A particular favorite of mine was the Queen Victoria meets Buffalo Bill year, when Durango City Councilor Sweetie Marbury portrayed her royal majesty. (She found Americans quite tall and amusing, she told me.)
For its ninth outing next weekend, the celebration is going Hollywood – celebrating Durango’s long tradition as the site for Old West movie making.
The organizing committee selected a list of films from the 1925 “The Limited Mall” through the iconic 1969 “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” along with classics such as “Around the World in 80 Days” and “How the West Was Won” as its inspiration.
My dad, Charlie Butler, took me to Bakers Bridge to watch the filming of “Butch Cassidy,” and I remember being quite disappointed when they threw dummies into the Animas River rather than having Paul Newman and Robert Redford make the famous leap themselves. As an adult who understands the risk, I’m glad they didn’t go for it.
The event is doing something different with its Friday event, committee Chairwoman Rani Holt said. Nothing is more “Western movie” than the saloon, so the evening will feature dinner and a ragtime dance. A history of ragtime along with an interview with Eubie Blake, who was a well-known ragtime player and composer for Broadway shows, is available on the organization’s website for those who want to delve further into the art form.
The event would not be complete without its Grand Ball, and this year, in addition to modern formal attire, organizers are encouraging attendees to create gowns inspired from films such as “Gone with the Wind” and “My Fair Lady.” (Attendees might want to forgo Carol Burnett’s outfit from her memorable skit paying homage to “Gone with the Wind,” though, because the curtain-rod shoulders would be hazardous to all concerned.)
Holt reminds people that while many of the events do not require historical garb, because this event honors actual history, steampunk attire, modern Western attire and movie-style saloon dresses are not appropriate. More attire information is available on the organization’s website for individual events.
And guests and locals are in for a real treat Oct. 9 when Al Harper, owner of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and a member of the organizing committee, is offering $20 round-trip tickets to Silverton for those who purchase their tickets through the celebration. Many of the passengers will be dressed in photo-worthy outfits for the trip.
This is not quite as jam-packed a weekend as some Durango Heritage Celebrations have been, but those wore out the organizers and the guests who tried to do it all. This provides plenty to do, including several free events, but at a more civilized pace our Victorian forbears would recognize.
If you’re going, I encourage you to get your tickets quickly, particularly for the dinner and ball, which have limited slots, and also, because, as I have ranted in past Neighbors columns, it is the considerate thing to do for organizers.
HHHCheck back at durangoherald.com for more Neighbors stories and photos. Neighbors runs in the Sunday print edition of The Durango Herald.
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