Last night my writing friend Carrie organized an outing for her writing group, and me, to the abandoned theater that was once a prime attraction of the old Elitch's Gardens amusement park in Denver. Carrie is in the process of writing a young adult novel set in that theater, where she herself once worked many years ago, before Elitch's moved to its new location and the theater closed its doors for good. I was included in the outing as I'm going to be working with her in a mentor role as she tackles revisions.
Now celebrating its 125th anniversary, and in the midst of a decade of renovations, the theater is hosting tours on the First Friday of each summer month. The tour we attended was extremely well organized. Half a dozen different guides presented information about a wide range of subjects: the exterior of the building; the timetable for the restoration; the history of the Elitch family (with special focus on spunky Mary Elitch, who kept the amusement park, zoo, and theater going after her husband's early death); the history of the theater itself (the first summer stock theater in the U.S.); and the roster of visiting stars who had performed there, including Sarah Bernhardt, Robert Redford, and my own favorite, Patty Duke.
Here we are, soaking up atmosphere and looking forward to seeing some details from the theater's storied past making their way into Carrie's book:
Afterward we wandered over to Denver's delightful Tennyson Street, filled with its own First Friday delights. Tennyson Street is home to the Denver bookstore I love best, the charming children's bookstore, Second Star to the Right.
They were still open, even at 9:30 at night, so I bought two books for Kataleya. Right across the street is another inviting bookstore for browsing and lingering, BookBar, which offers the combined attractions of bookstore and wine bar. What's not to like about that? The Denver Cat Company cafe was closed for the night, but several pleasingly plump kitties dozed in the window. After waiting for two of our party to have their Tarot cards read (!), we settled down for late-night people watching at an open-air, street-facing counter of a restaurant on the way back to the theater.
I got home close to midnight, unheard of for me, early to bed and early to rise as I am. But once in a while, it's worth it to burn the candle at both ends. Especially when you have the chance for a fascinating and fun outing with fascinating and fun writer friends.