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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Gang members attack downtown Tucson…for your enjoyment!

    Gang members attack downtown Tucson...for your enjoyment!

    In the 1930s, the days when tumbleweeds replaced parking garages, John Dillinger and his gang of hooligans became infamous for robbing over $200,000 from banks nationwide, killing three police officers and leading national investigators on a nationwide hunt that ended in Tucson.

    As the anniversary of Dillinger’s 1934 capture at the historic Hotel Congress rolls near, downtown Tucson is preparing to throw on its boots and spurs to re-enact the time when the rebels ruled the streets at this weekend’s biggest historical party – The Dillinger Days.

    “”The reason there are the Dillinger Days in the first place is because Dillinger was caught here after the first Hotel Congress fire in 1934,”” said David Slutes, entertainment director at the Hotel Congress.

    To kick off the remembrance of such a time, it is only fitting that Club Congress host a free concert tomorrow from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., touting The Kings of Pleasure and Pearl Handed Pistol.

    “”We are expecting a large turnout for this event, and for the events happening throughout the weekend,”” Slutes said. “”This was a big deal in 1934, and this is a little nugget of history that we would like to celebrate.””

    In keeping with past traditions, Slutes said the parking lot of Hotel Congress will serve as a backdrop for re-enactments that involve the police, the gang and their shenanigans.

    “”There are three re-enactments occurring throughout the weekend, at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.”” Slutes said, “”We are booked for the event, and this year the script has been rewritten.””

    Although Hotel Congress has been celebrating this event for over a decade, Slutes said that partnerships with the Downtown Alliance and the Arizona Historical Society have promoted the growth of a district-wide downtown fiesta.

    This year, as DJ’s Kidd Squidd and Al Perry play vintage tunes from the 1930s, lectures of the time period will be held at Rialto Theatre and walking tours led by affiliates with the Arizona Historical Society and Pima County Superior Court will gather at 2:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday in the lobby of Hotel Congress.

    “”The streets will be loaded with vintage cars and everything will be free,”” Slutes said. “”Annually this kind of turnout helps Congress, but now we would like to think of this as an event that is good for downtown and the rest of the businesses involved.””

    If you’re yearning to see artifacts from the time period, the Arizona Historical Society Museum Downtown is featuring an exhibit of the gang’s arsenal and mug shots, as well as a slew of fun artifacts from the time period.

    “”Our exhibit is dealing with the capture of the Dillinger gang from the police point of view,”” said Dave Faust, curator of the Arizona Historical Society Museum Downtown. “”We have furniture from the place in which they were captured, and on Saturday only, the TPD will bring out the four weapons they used to capture the gang.””

    Although the exhibit stays in the museum all year, during the Dillinger Days, donated artifacts – like an armored vest that Dillinger stole from an Indiana police station – are included along with magazines and license plates from the time period.

    “”In the past 3 years, we have had about 250 people come through the museum,”” Faust said, “”and last year there were several thousand visitors through Club Congress. The event has grown every year, and we hope to keep it growing and exciting.””

    If you go:

    • Dillinger Days Kick-Off Concert

    The Kings of Pleasure and Pearl Handled Pistol will perform tomorrow. The free show runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Club Congress.

  • Re-enactments by HotShot Performer, will be at the Hotel Congress parking lot at:
    11 a.m. (Part 1)
    2 p.m. (Part 2)
    4 p.m. (Parts 1 and 2)
  • Music Schedule:

    Starting at 10:45 a.m., KXCI’s DJ Kidd Squidd will spin tunes of the era on the Toole Avenue stage and will host “”studio”” guests:

    • Tucson-based French transplants Marianne Dissard and Naim Amor bring ’30s Paris to the Old Pueblo at 11:30 a.m. (Also find them in the Depot lobby from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m.)
  • The moody, nostalgic, folk jazz of Pearl Handled Pistol takes the stage at 12:15 p.m. for a few songs. (Also find them in the Depot lobby from 1 p.m. until 1:45 p.m.)
  • Tucson’s international award-winning jazz singer Joe Bourne will perform from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. (Headliner)
  • KXCI’s DJ Al Perry takes the reins at 2 p.m., continuing with ’30s songs. His show will welcome:
  • The Dusty Buskers with Fiddling Phoenix and Dusty Squirrelfisher playing traditional Irish folk songs along with the tunes of Woody Guthrie, Doc Watson and Crocket Ward at 2:30 p.m. (Also find them in the Depot lobby and outside the Depot from 2:45 p.m. until 4 p.m.)
  • The Last Call Girls will pay homage to traditional country and bluegrass from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Headliner)
  • Lectures

    (take place at Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.)

  • 11:30 a.m. – Without a Shot Fired: The 1934 Capture of the Dillinger Gang in Tucson by Stan Benjamin.
  • 1 p.m. – A Nine Ring Legal Circus – Ten Eventful Days in Tucson History by Andy Dowdle.
  • Walking Tour

    • Hit the Pavement with the Dillinger Gang in Downtown Tucson, led by Tom Stefanski and Andy Dowdle begins at 2:30 p.m. Meet in the Hotel Congress lobby.


    • The Southern AZ Transportation Museum shows the transportation aspects of the Dillinger gang’s Tucson “”experience,”” from its arrival via automobile on a new national highway system toits extradition.
  • Arizona Historical Society Museum Downtown features the gang’s arsenal, its mug shots, articles and photos in an interpretive exhibit about the gang’s Tucson capture.
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