Walla Walla will throw an all-day birthday celebration Tuesday for its superhero native son, Adam West.
The actor, born William West Anderson on Sept. 19, 1928, moved to Walla Walla with his family shortly after his birth. His father operated a wheat ranch.
West, most famous for his role as Batman in the eponymous 1960s television series on ABC, died in June after a short battle with leukemia. Later that month, local Adam West fans Jonathan Grant, Adam Lore and Don Roff took a proclamation to the city council to get Sept. 19 declared Adam West Day.
Grant is the front office manager at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center. With the support of the hotel and a variety of other community partners, he has taken a major role in organizing Adam West Day celebrations.
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“This is something that should have been done 30 years ago. We want to do it up right and just show the family how much the area and Walla Walla loves Adam West,” Grant said. “We are so proud of what he has accomplished, not only in Batman but all his other roles, and in always giving back to the community.”
Grant said he met West — Walla Walla’s “bright knight” — a few years ago when the actor was checking into the Marcus Whitman Hotel.
“The moment I met Adam, I became an Adam West fan and he became my hero at that point,” said Grant, who described him as gracious and kindhearted. “He would make you the most important person in the room. … He had a gift with people. He would walk through the lobby of the hotel and stop and shake hands until everyone had the opportunity to say ‘Hello.’ ”
West’s wife, Marcelle, some of his children and other relatives are expected to travel to Walla Walla from Ketchum, Idaho and California for the special event.
From before noon and into the evening Tuesday, businesses around town will display Batman stickers and posters of West and offer special promotions. The city will also install a new sign commemorating West near his childhood home at the intersection of Clinton Street and Alvarado Terrace.
Other memorials to West can be found at the post office at 128 N. Second Ave. and at the Marcus Whitman, both based around photos from the collection of Joe Drazan.
West will also be the focus of a series of events throughout the day. Here’s the itinerary:
11 a.m. — Opening ceremonies at the corner of First Avenue and Main Street. Mayor Alan Pomraning will present a key to the city to members of West’s family, and attendees will have the opportunity to meet Batman and pose for photos with an exact replica of the Batmobile that West drove as the Caped Crusader.
1:30 p.m. — Animator, comic book artist and sculptor Rubén Procopio, of Masked Avenger Studios, will speak at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center about his history working with West and on other Batman media, as well as with companies like Disney and Warner Brothers. Procopio designed a proposed statue of West as Batman, which Grant and other advocates hope to install somewhere in the city, and will be showing test drawings. The Batmobile will also be on show.
3 p.m. — Live music from Debra Arlyn and Daniel Minteer at Land Title Plaza, along with activities for children and more free photos with Batman and the Batmobile.
7 p.m. — A screening at Gesa Power House Theatre of the 2013 documentary Starring Adam West, a biography of West. It is first-come, first-served with limited seating. Director James Tooley and actor Ralph Garman, who co-starred with West on Family Guy, will answer questions after the screening.
9 p.m. — The iconic Bat Signal will shine on the west side of the Marcus Whitman hotel, with a few words from Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber. “That’s what the police commissioner — in this case, the chief — does,” Bieber said of the lighting. The ceremony will be followed by a party at Sapolil Cellars on Main Street, featuring Idaho rock band Wide Stance, formerly the Hitmen.
Money raised during the all-day celebration will go to Camp Rainbow Gold, an Idaho organization for children diagnosed with cancer and their families.
The Facebook page for Adam West Day gives other points of interest for Adam West fans.
▪ Heritage Park in downtown has a rare photo of West and his brother, John, as young boys on the family farm. The photo was taken in 1935 when a young Billie Anderson was 7.
▪ West graduated from Whitman College. Stroll through the campus at Boyer Avenue and Park Street, visit the Baker Center at 364 Boyer Ave. to see the alumni tribute, and drive by the Beta Theta Pi house at 925 E. Isaacs Ave. to see where he was a member.
▪ The Little Theater, 1130 E. Sumach St., is where West’s acting career began. His first play was Ladies in Retirement in the 1947-48 season. His father, Otto Anderson, was one of the founders of the playhouse.
▪ One of his childhood homes was at 1141 Alvarado Terrace, with West’s room the upper left window. His elementary school, Green Park, is just down the road.