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Dillinger Days to again blaze at Hotel Congress

Hotel Congress' "Dillinger Days" returns this weekend, bringing back memories of bootleggers, bankrobbers and straight bourbon.

The event kicks off on Friday night at 7 p.m. with the Dillinger Speakeasy, including a screening of documentary on the 1970 Pioneer Hotel fire, a whiskey and cigar tasting, and a showcase of 1930s fire department memorabilia, said Ian Cartensen, an assistant manager at Hotel Congress. Tickets are $25 at the door, $20 in advance.

After 10 p.m. the event will move inside Club Congress, where Katherine Brynes, Jimmy Carr, the Awkward Moments and Chris Black will perform Prohibition-era music.

On Saturday, the performers of Hotsetperformers.com will once again reenact outlaw John Dillinger's 1934 escapade in Tucson. The bank-robber was captured along with accomplices when a fire broke out on the top story of Hotel Congress. A fireman who retrieved the gang's luggage recognized them later from photos in True Detective magazine, and the criminals were tracked to house on North Fourth Avenue. Dillinger later escaped from an Indiana jail after being extradited.

"It's an action-packed docudrama thriller," said the performer who will play Dillinger, who goes by the stage name "Johnny Hotshot."

Nine performers will reenact the capture of Dillinger, including an antique car chase, a bank robbery, and a fire on the third floor of Hotel Congress, said Hotshot, who said he's been playing Dillinger at this event for 19 years.

The reenactment is one of the more popular events at Dillinger Days, Cartensen said. For this reason, there will be three performance thoughout the day on Saturday.

"Get there early because there is never a seat opened," Hotshot said. "The whole place is always packed."

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New this year is the Brother's Macabre Magic Show. "They prefer to be called illusionists," Cartensen said. They are scheduled to perform Saturday night at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m..

This year's event will also be spiked with a number of bourbon and rye whiskeys, featuring Templeton Rye, which recalls the tipples imported from Canada during Prohibition.

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Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.com

Actors during a 2012 Dillinger Days reenactment.

Dlllinger Days

  • Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
  • Friday and Saturday

Friday, Jan. 18

  • 7 p.m. Dillinger Speakeasy at Hotel Congress Club Lobby
  • 10 p.m. Prohibition Era Music Night (free)

Saturday, Jan. 19

  • 10 a.m. Music and comedy show at Hotel Congress Plaza
  • 10:15 a.m. "A Nine Ring Legal Circus: 10 Eventful Days in Tucson" lecture in Copper Hall
  • 10:30 a.m. "Hot Pion" documentary
  • 11 a.m. Dillinger reenactment part one at Hotel Congress Plaza
  • 11:30 a.m. "Hot Pion" documentary
  • 11:45 a.m. Historic walking tour
  • Noon Music and comedy show at Hotel Congress Plaza
  • 12:30 p.m. "Hot Pion" documentary
  • 1 p.m. Dillinger reenactment part two at Hotel Congress Plaza>
  • 1:45 p.m. "The 1930s- Tucson's Last Quiet Decade" lecture in Copper Hall
  • 2 p.m. Music and Comedy Show at Hotel Congress Plaza
  • 2:30 p.m. "Hot Pion" documentary
  • 3 p.m. Dillinger Reenactment parts one and two at Hotel Congress Plaza>
  • 3:30 p.m. "Hot Pion" documentary
  • 4:30 p.m. End of day events
  • 5 p.m. Brothers Macabre Magic Show>
  • 8 p.m. Brothers Macabre Magic Show (second showing) >
  • 10 p.m. DJ dance party inside and outside of Hotel Congress (free)