Local historical buffs enliven Cemetery Crawl
7th annual event scheduled in Fairview graveyard Aug. 28-29
Don Ellis has been portraying former Westside leader Luther McKnight for several years now at the Fairview Cemetery Crawl.
He concedes it's not a perfect fit.
McKnight, who died in 1986, “was a curmudgeon-type bachelor who didn't dress very spiffy,” said Ellis - married, genial and generally not known for the plaid shirt/straw hat combinations McKnight wore.
But personal differences won't stop him or other volunteer historical impersonators from breathing life into some of the Westside's most famous deceased characters at the Old Colorado City Historical Society's seventh annual Cemetery Crawl August 28 and 29.
The event will be from 2 to 5 p.m. both days. The cemetery is at 1000 S. 26th St. Tours last about an hour.
Guides will lead groups of 5 to 10 people through the cemetery to headstones where certain historical figures are buried. At each such headstone will be someone dressed for the part, who will give a brief speech about the person and answer questions.
Among those also providing characteriziations will be Doris McCraw as Katherine Lamont; Dottie Spann as Amanda Robinson (from whom she is descended - this will be Sunday only), Dave Hughes as Old Colorado City co-founder Anthony Bott, Jean Christopher as Blanche Burton, Bettyann Henderson as early pioneer Hattie Trout (who arrived here at age 5), Martha Curry as Louise Koch and Rev. David Clark as Q.M. Sgt. John Ingersoll.
The Hughes family will be well represented. Dave Hughes' daughter, Rebecca Palmedo, will be a tour guide; her husband, Tom Palmedo, will portray Louis Unser (sire of a family of race car drivers whom Rebecca had interviewed when he was still alive); granddaughter Jennifer Clark will encore as Laura Belle McDaniel; and son Ed will enact Duncan Lamont.
The latter personage is best known as a fire-and-brimstone minister who celebrated happily when a fire broke out on the then- “shady” south side of Colorado Avenue, spurring irritated firefighters to briefly turn the hose on him.
Jennifer Clark also has to do some acting for her part. Laura Belle was the famed Old Town madam, whereas Jennifer works as a loan processor and is engaged to be married.
Hughes joked that he is having to “commit the reserves” from three generations of his family to help out the Historical Society for the Crawl.
The event idea originally came from society members Ed and Nancy Bathke, who had seen it work well elsewhere in the country, Hughes recalled.
Luther McKnight was known as an accomplished organist, hiker, packrat and photographer. “He had a huge number of photos,” Ellis said. “Some people joked that he took a picture of every rock in the region.”
The hiking aspect is a trait shared by Ellis, who is particularly known for his knowledge of Red Rock Canyon's terrain.
Otherwise, “I don't look much like him, but I can dress like him,” Ellis said of McKnight. “Hughes doesn't look much like Anthony Bott, either.”
Advance tickets are available for $5 ($3 for children under 12) from the Old Colorado City History Center, 1 S. 24th St.
Westside Pioneer Article