Dillinger Days Celebrates Tucson Capture of Notorious Bank Robber

January 11, 2012

Back in January 1934, John Dillinger and his gang of bank robbers quietly arrived at Hotel Congress. The next few days put Tucson in the national media spotlight as locals figured out that Public Enemy No. 1 was right here in Tucson.

John Dillinger and gang put Tucson on the map in 1934.

For several years now, Hotel Congress has commemorated the Dillinger episode with Dillinger Days, this year celebrated with a host of events on January 20 and 21.

Dillinger Days provides a fun way to honor this unique bit of Tucson history, celebrate a nostalgic era, and honor the brave men and women who protect our city on a daily basis.

It is by far Hotel Congress’s  favorite event and every year it grows in popularity.

Congress Street, Toole Avenue and Hotel Congress are the setting for Dillinger Days, and the year is 1934. Three lively historically accurate re-enactments will relive the Dillinger gang’s last bank robbery in Chicago prior to their arrival in Tucson, as well as the series of events leading to the gang’s capture in and around Downtown, including the fire that destroyed the third floor of Hotel Congress.

Your heart will be racing as Dillinger speeds down the streets of Downtown Tucson. Bring the entire family and come experience a part of Tucson history with the folks who hosted it back in 1934.

Friday night’s Speakeasy features a number of activities including a screening of the documentary Hot Pion, which details the tragic 1970 fire at the Pioneer Hotel, in the Club Congress; a museum of 1930s memorabilia in Copper Hall; a premium whiskey tasting in the lobby of the Hotel, plus big band tunes from Kings of Pleasure and music from Duo Vibrato.

The night will raise funds for the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation to restore the 1923 American LaFrance Fire Engine – the very engine that responded to the Hotel Congress fire on January 22, 1934.

Dillinger Days Opening Night Party, Friday, January 20 from 7 to 10 p.m. includes:

• “The Speakeasy” a 1934 style soirée!

• Live music from Duo Vibrato in the Lounge.

• Kings Of Pleasure in the Nightclub, kick off the music and dancing.

• Whiskey Tasting in the lobby throughout the night.

• Memorabilia Museum in Copper Hall.

• “Hot Pion,” the Pioneer Hotel Fire Documentary screened in the Copper Hall.

$10 suggested donation, proceeds to the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation.

Saturday’s festivities are family friendly, as always, and include lively re-enactments of Dillinger’s capture, vintage car shows, live music, tours of the Hotel Congress and Downtown walking tours, carnival games and much more.

Don’t miss the real Tommy Gun on display in the Memorabilia Museum on Saturday. This weapon was one of the original weapons confiscated in the capture of Dillinger’s Gang!

Saturdays schedule  of events:

• “Hot Pion,” the documentary on the Pioneer Hotel Fire, begins screening in Club Congress, continuing on the hour until close.

10 a.m. – Lecture:  “A Nine Ring Legal Circus: 10 Eventful Days In Tucson” by Andy Dowdle. Copper Hall.

10:15 a.m. –   Music and Old Time Radio Programming. Hotel Congress Plaza.

11 a.m. – Dillinger Re-enactment Part One. Hotel Congress Plaza.

11:45 a.m. – Dillinger Historic Walking Tour – Andy Dowdle. Starts immediately after Re-enactment on plaza.

Noon – Music. Hotel Congress Plaza.

12:40 p.m. – Hotel Congress Plaza – Old Time Radio Program.

1 p.m. – Dillinger Re-enactment Part Two . Hotel Congress Plaza

1:45 p.m. –Lecture:  “The 1930’s – Tucson’s Last Quiet Decade” – Ken Scoville. Copper Hall

2 p.m. – Music. Hotel Congress Plaza

2:40 p.m. – Old Time Radio Show. Hotel Congress Plaza

3 p.m. – Dillinger Full Show. Hotel Congress Plaza

4 p.m. – Event concludes.

Vintage attire is strongly encouraged!