Dillinger Days Celebrates the Capture of Public Enemy No. 1

January 11, 2013

It was January 1934 and John Dillinger was  “on the lam.” Finding refuge in Tucson, the Dillinger gang stayed at the Hotel Congress until the fateful fire forced them out of their hiding place – and lead to their capture by Tucson’s police and fire departments.dillinger photo

The Historic Hotel Congress commemorates this rich piece of Tucson’s history and the 79th anniversary of Dillinger’s capture with the annual Dillinger Days celebration to take place on Friday, Jan. 18 and Saturday, Jan. 19 on the grounds of the Hotel Congress and Maynards Market. Proceeds benefit the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation.

“We’ve always been proud of our local law enforcement for doing what no one else could – capturing a notorious criminal,” said Todd Hanley, general manager of Hotel Congress. “This event celebrates the firefighters, police officers, and all the others that were involved in the events that lead to John Dillinger’s arrest.”

Dillinger Speakeasy

The weekend kicks off at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 with a Friday night soiree that recaptures the spirit of the 1930s. “John Dillinger” will start off the night with a quick-draw, gun slinging show on the Club Congress stage.

The night will feature tastings of premium whiskies, including an award-winning local – Vickers Brothers Whisky from Flagstaff. Borderlands Brewery will also be on hand with tastes of their locally made brews.

A museum of 1930s memorabilia in Copper Hall plus big band tunes from Kings of Pleasure and music from Duo Vibrato add to the early century vibe.

Tickets are $20 per person in advance ($25 per person at the door). Admission also includes a chili bar from Cup Café. Entry is only for people age 21 or older. First responders receive a 2 for 1 discount until January 11.

Proceeds will go toward the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation to restore a 1923 American LaFrance Fire Engine – the very engine that responded to the Hotel Congress fire on January 23, 1934.

Dillinger Speakeasy AFTERPARTY

The night continues with free, old-but-good-time, non-rock, Depression era tunes presented by Hotel Congress and KXCI from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Catherine Byrnes will be a 30’s style chanteuse, Chris Black plays gypsy music, and Jimmy Carr and The Awkward Moments perform old Appalachian party songs with vintage instruments.

Dillinger Days – Free Family Event

Saturday’s festivities on Jan. 19 are family friendly, as always, and include lively re-enactments of Dillinger’s capture, vintage car shows, a carnival, live music, tours of the Hotel Congress and Downtown walking tours and much more.

A documentary called “Hot Pion” about the 1970 Pioneer Hotel fire starts showing at 10:30 a.m. and will be shown on the half hour until 3:30 p.m.

Here’s a  schedule of events for Jan. 19.

10 a.m.  Music and Old Time Radio Program (Hotel Congress Plaza)

10:15 a.m.  Lecture:  “A Nine Ring Legal Circus: 10 Eventful Days In Tucson” – Andy Dowdle (Copper Hall)

10:30 a.m. “Hot Pion” Pioneer Hotel Fire Documentary

11 a.m. Dillinger Reenactment Part One (Hotel Congress Plaza)

11:30 a.m. “Hot Pion” Pioneer Hotel Fire Documentary

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

Noon  Vintage Music and Old Time Radio Program (Hotel Congress Plaza)

12:30 p.m. “Hot Pion” Pioneer Hotel Fire Documentary

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

1 p.m. Dillinger Reenactment Part Two (Hotel Congress Plaza)

1:30 p.m. “Hot Pion” Pioneer Hotel Fire Documentary

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

2 p.m. Vintage Music and Old Time Radio Program (Hotel Congress Plaza)

2:30 p.m. “Hot Pion” Pioneer Hotel Fire Documentary

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

3 p.m. Dillinger Reenactment Parts One and Two (Hotel Congress Plaza)

3:30 p.m. “Hot Pion” Pioneer Hotel Fire Documentary

4:30 p.m. Day Event concludes

5 and 8 p.m.  Brothers Macabre Turn of the Century Magic Show with Nate Anderson and Kenny Stewart and their eye-popping, amazing displays of magic, mind-reading, and fortune telling – infused with comedy to keep audiences laughing all night. Admission is $10 per person.