By Noah Kutz
Shoppers and amateur historians alike shared a blast from the past as downtown “Chandlore” festivities once again transported spectators back to the city’s roots.
Actors and performers from Improvmania Comedy played the roles of various socialites and important figures from Chandler’s “hip-storic” past as a way to highlight memorable parts of the city’s founding in 1912.
Residents meandering around the downtown plaza witnessed characters from the early 1900s, including Charlotte Boyd Chandler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Sam Soldinger and Fritz and Emmy Werner.
Patrons who sat outside downtown Chandler’s participating restaurants may have heard the barbershop quartet perform their a capella numbers to passersby. Nearly every living soul in the area heard the gunslinger Johnny Hot Shot as he fired off his pistols and cracked a whip with shouts of “yeeha!”
He entertained a crowd with tricks showing off the common tools and weapons used by old Western cowboys, including a display of expertise as he severed the head of a rose behind his back with a flick of his bull whip.
The crowd whooped and hollered after every trick, and each time he responded, “Now that’s how it was done in the West…”
The one-night event choreographed by Downtown Chandler Community Partnership is designed to provide a fun and exciting way for residents to learn—or relearn—the history of their town, as well as promote a stronger bond with the community.
“Chandlore is here to celebrate our ‘hipstoric’ culture here in downtown Chandler,” said Mary Murphy-Bessler, DCCP’s executive director.
“Hipstoric,” she noted, is a way of saying that Chandler’s past is more interesting than many might think, especially when they see the performances from the 1920s socialites around town.
Added one Chandler resident who was on hand for the celebration:
“Lots of people don’t know the history behind Chandler’s foundation, so this is a good way for folks to interact more with the history and culture.”
The actors taking on the roles do it in a way that seems to help audiences believe they’ve been transported back in time. This way, children and parents can ask questions directly to the make- believe visitors from history about the the roles they played in Chandler’s beginning, as well as learn fun facts and tidbits about the founders and their own personal history.
For more information on Chandlore and other DCCP events, visit DowntownChandler.org.