Elvis jumps aboard 3:10 to Yuma
Swing with knocked-out jailbirds at Territorial Prison fundraiser March 31
YUMA, ARIZONA - With Elvis tribute artist Donny Edwards as the headliner, everybody in the whole cell block will be dancing to the jailhouse rock at the third annual "3:10 to Yuma" fundraiser March 31at Yuma's historic Territorial Prison.
Part of an ongoing community effort to keep the prison open to the public, the fundraising event also includes dinner and a live auction.
Edwards will perform a 1950s show during the 5:30 p.m. cocktail hour, followed by a dinner featuring both a healthy grilled chicken salad and food stations with somewhat-less-healthy "Elvis favorites" like barbeque and pulled pork.
A live auction begins about 7 p.m., featuring such unique items as dinner for four in the infamous "dark cell," dinner for 12 in the cell block and brunch on the guard tower, all catered by area restaurants that are pitching in to help support the prison. Also up for bidding will be annual sponsorships for such iconic Prison landmarks as the guard tower, sally port and cell block.
Following the auction, Edwards will perform his tribute to the 1970s Elvis. A native of Texas now living in (of course!) Las Vegas, Edwards is a lifelong Elvis fan who walked away from a degree in computer science to become a tribute artist in 2002. Cast as the 1950s Elvis in the Vegas production of "Elvis, Elvis, Elvis," Edwards has since performed as the King all over the world and is the only tribute artist to win the two largest Elvis competitions in the world with perfect scores. He often appears with members of Elvis' own bands, including DJ Fontana, The Sweet Inspirations and The Jordanaires.
The first 3:10 to Yuma fundraiser took shape in 2010 when Arizona State Parks announced plans to close the historic site for budgetary reasons, and Yuma citizens organized themselves into "Chain Gangs" that raised more than $70,000 in less than 60 days to "save the prison."
Thanks to that effort, the City of Yuma leased the property from Arizona State Parks and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area took over operations April 1, 2010.
The Heritage Area has since completed major renovations to the entire park and refreshed and updated its museum. The prison's operating deficit has been eliminated through increased revenues and operating efficiencies, funding from the National Park Service, and ongoing community fundraising, according to Charles Flynn, Heritage area executive director.
"Funds raised by this event have made it possible to make significant improvements to the park each year," Flynn said. "For example, last year we bought the Gatling gun replica and replaced the deck on the guard tower.
"This year, we want to replace the main sidewalk and its prison timeline," Flynn added. "It's a favorite with visitors of all ages, but it is worn to the point that it's unreadable, even for sharp-eyed kids! We also have more ideas for improvements to the museum."
Flynn also noted that restoration of the sally port should be complete by the date of the fundraiser. This effort to stabilize and renew one of the Prison's original adobe structures was funded by a grant from Arizona State Parks.
Tickets for the 3:10 to Yuma: Jailhouse Rock Edition are $50 each, and reserved tables for eight are available for $400. Tickets are on sale now at Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, or by phone with a credit card at 928-328-8716.
The sad sack was sittin' on a block of stone
way over in the corner weepin' all alone
The warden said hey, buddy, don't you be no square
if you can't find a partner, use a wooden chair.
Let's rock, everybody let's rock
Everybody in the whole cell block was dancin' to the jailhouse rock
Charles Flynn, 928-373-5192 (office), 928-503-2679 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Walker, 928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell), email@example.com
Visitor Information Center: 1-800-293-0071
Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is an independent nonprofit corporation governed by a local board of directors. It was among the first national heritage areas in the West to be officially designated by the U.S. Congress. The Heritage Area's master plan projects earned the Governor's Arizona Preservation Award in 2009. For more information, call 928-373-5198 or visit www.yumaheritage.com.
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