By John G. Miller, DENVER DAILY NEWS
It’s time to pull your flapper dresses and zoot suits out of the attic. They’re partying down like old times once again in Union Station, only this time the revelry is about the past meeting the future.
The Union Station Advocates, a group devoted to the redevelopment and historical preservation of the venerable train station, is hosting a fundraiser tonight to benefit a recreation of the original Welcome/Mizpah arch that adorned the station from 1906 to 1931.
“A Night in Old Union Station” is a costume optional affair from 7-11 p.m. The $40 “Speakeasy” tickets are sold out, but $100 Main Dining Hall tickets and $200 Oyster Bar tickets are still available. So far, more than 850 people are scheduled to attend.
“It’s a big neighborhood rally,” said Dana Crawford, a co-chair of the Union Station Advocates Board of Directors.
Honorary chairmen of the gala event at Union Station, located at 17th and Wynkoop, are Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, his wife Helen Thorpe and District 9 Councilwoman Judy Montero. Other attending luminaries are District 10 Councilwoman Jeanne Robb and Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher.
Several disparate musical styles are provided to assist in dancing the night away, including Eohippus, a jazz, Latin, and funk outfit. The Denver Municipal Band is greeting guests as they arrive with their high-powered big band sound.
“We have an 11 singer a cappella group,” said Crawford. “They’re called the New Wizard Oil Combination, from when there were traveling medicine shows.”
Food and entertainment
Cuisine for the event is being donated by a number of prominent LoDo restaurants, including shrimp from McCormick’s Fish House, crab from Morton’s The Steakhouse, and gumbo from Gumbo’s Louisiana Style CafŽ. Oyster Bar ticketholders will have reserved seating on the mezzanine ala Grand Central Station, with wine provided by Dry Creek Vineyard. Main Dining Hall ticketholders will receive a gourmet dinner buffet, while Speakeasy tickets can enjoy free Coors and light dinner fare.
Entertainment includes troupes of mimes, contortionists and palm readers. Historic attire is encouraged, and there will be a prize for best costume. The evening will culminate in the Great Hall reception room, where its 65-foot ceiling will provide the backdrop to a finale planned by Al Kraizer, LoDo Jazz Fest creator, and Charlie Prideaux, producer of Times Square’s annual New Year’s Eve ball drop.
The original arch said “Welcome” on both sides, and with its 2,194 light bulbs the 70-ton structure stood outside of Union Station to greet newcomers to the city. It was christened on July 4, 1906 by then mayor Robert Speer declaring that it “is to stand here for ages as an expression of love, good wishes and kind feelings of our citizens to the stranger who enters our gates.”
After Denver hosted the 1908 Democratic convention, it was noticed that the arch was actually welcoming travelers to leave as well as arrive. The entrance to the station was replaced with the Hebrew word “mizpah,” the parting salutation found in Genesis 31:49: “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.” The arch was demolished in 1931 when the city decided it was a traffic hazard. Tickets for “A Night in Old Union Station” can be purchased RSVP at www.blacktiecolorado.com with RSVP code USA10/15. Tickets are also available at King Soopers, The Oxford Hotel, or Kentwood City Properties across from Union Station. For more info, visit www.anightinoldunionstation.com or www.unionstationadvocates.org.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters