By Stephanie Garcia and Tim McGivern
~ Local ~
Somewhere along the way to the protest, there was a breakdown in communication. An estimated 10 people showed up at the corner of Menaul and Louisiana on Saturday, March 6, planning to send a message to Rep. Heather Wilson that she was wrong to support the Iraq War and other Bush administration policies.
The protest was timed to coincide with Wilson's appearance on Clear Channel's 100.3-FM The Peak during a live broadcast at Coronado Mall that afternoon. The station was conducting their third annual Girl Scout cookie sale, where shoppers could buy a box and send them to the troops overseas, according to a Peak spokesman.
A few of the protesters had hoped to raise their anti-war sentiment in view of Wilson during her public appearance. Instead, the small group was greeted by Albuquerque Police officers and mall security when they showed up on the sidewalk near the parking lot perimeter.
"I was the first one there and there were five squad cars and mall security," said Monique Bell. "That doesn't exactly warm my heart." Bell said she was surprised that APD had even known about the small rally, but added that the APD officer in charge was very polite.
"We were really clear that we were pro-Girl Scout and pro-troop," said Damon Scott, a Gulf War veteran and spokesman for Miles Nelson, a Democratic congressional candidate. "The point was Wilson was there exploiting the Girl Scouts and troops for her re-election campaign while at the same time having a record of voting against veteran's benefits."
After a few protesters went inside the mall to find Wilson, they realized she wasn't around. Wilson had actually attended the live broadcast at the mall on Friday, March 5, and the Peak decided to replay the taped segment the next day, as well.
Bell said the rally never quite materialized, that the presence of police scared off some of the protesters, but added that she was going to continue to protest Wilson's re-election efforts in the days ahead. "She's always lying and spinning like our government does, and I'm sick and tired of it," said Bell.
As for the critics that assumed Wilson avoided the Saturday event due to the presence of protesters, Enrique Knell, the congresswoman's spokesman, explained: "She didn't cancel, she participated. She was on the air at the scheduled time." (TM)
Is there something weird in the neighborhood? The KiMo Theatre, a Downtown architectural jewel and historic landmark, in Tewa, means "king of its kind." Its multi-million dollar renovation has made it one of the fanciest and most intimate places to enjoy the arts and, some say, maybe even do a little ghost-spotting.
Dennis Potter, the theater's technical stage manager, sincerely said there was a ghost who lived there as he pointed out the KiMo's architectural design during a recent tour of the place.
On Aug. 1, 1951, the theatre's water heater exploded in the lobby during a show. "It was very gruesome," Potter said. "One little boy named Bobby Darnall was critically injured and died."
Potter led the way to a shrine in the back of the building that is dedicated to Darnall, who was six years old when he died. The shrine contained many little items such as beads, fake flowers, little toys and pictures. Potter said some people place items there for the ghost in hopes that the show will go well and added that there were certain occurrences that happened to make them believe that the paranormal talk wasn't just an old wives' tale. One of them was during a showing of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. "Everything went wrong," Potter said, "light bulbs were exploding and doors were opening a closing by themselves." On another night, one ticket lady allegedly saw a boy standing on the balcony when everyone else had left the building.
Another instance was when the third floor was under renovation. Business renters from across the street said that they saw a small boy smiling and waving from the third floor. Overall, Potter said the ghost is pretty peaceful.
Craig Rivera, manager of the KiMo is not exaclty convinced that the ghost really exists. "I have never seen, sensed, felt or tasted anything," Rivera said. "Maybe I've become immune. Do I think it's possible? Maybe so." Rivera said a few Kimo visitors have been freaked out because they felt a presence.
A 1951 issue of the Albuquerque Journal featured the explosion on the front page, accompanied by a picture of Darnall who was a light-haired, fair-skinned child from what you can make out in the grainy picture. The KiMo staff still has an original copy of the issue as part of the theater archives.
Rivera said that there are not a lot of records of the KiMo during those times. "In 1951 the KiMo was privately owned and operated, all the records are gone. Who knows what could have taken place?"
Rivera said that this ghost talk has caused all kinds of curiosity among the public. "We get calls from all ghostbuster types of groups to see if they can channel some energy. I've had people who come in here and can feel the energy." He added that several people wanted to do documentaries of the ghost.
Due to and despite the speculation of a phantom, the theater continues to be a major part of Albuquerque history and culture. Rivera said that it's all up to the person as to whether they believe. "Let your own mind and your own instincts be the judge."
The KiMo is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. (SG)
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