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MAC’s Big Band Bash pays tribute to Natatorium Park

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 23, 2018, 11 a.m.

Saturday night, commemorating 50 years since the closing of Natatorium Park, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is hosting a 1930s and ’40s themed party to help locals remember the amusement park’s heyday.

“Nat Park,” the original home of the Looff Carousel which now entertains visitors of Riverfront Park, was fully dismantled in 1968.

“We’re trying to reach a broader audience … those who would want to come and interact with us in a different way rather than just (attending) a more formal talk or a workshop,” said David Brum, the museum’s adult education programs and events manager.

The night is going to be filled with entertainment and activities that harken back to the big band era. Local eight-piece jazz, swing and blues band Hot Club of Spokane, will provide live music throughout the evening.

All that big band music wouldn’t be right without a little swing dancing. Members of local dance group Strictly Swing Spokane will be milling around ready to give you a hand and some pointers if the music moves you.

There will also be a costume contest in which attendees are encouraged to embrace the spirit of the event by dressing in characteristic 1930s and ’40s styles.

“We want to do three of these events a year. It’s just getting people engaged with the museum in a fun new way,” said Brum.

Natatorium Park sat across the Spokane River from the current site of Spokane Falls Community College. A baseball field opened at the site, then called Twickenham Park, in 1889. By 1892 it has been renamed Natatorium Park and featured a large swimming pool. In addition to the Looff Carrousel, the park was home to a wooden roller coaster called the Jack Rabbit and an water ride called Shoot the Chutes. Declining attendance forced its closure at the end of the 1967 season, and it was razed the following year.

No-host food and beverages will be available as well as a special 21 and over dessert that tips its hat to swing: whiskey sour snow cones. Regular snow cones will also be available for underagers.

Attendees are also encouraged to visit the museum galleries which will be open from 7 to 9 p.m.

Saturday night will be a great chance to catch Sayaka Ganz’s project “Reclaimed Creations” before it leaves the museum next week. Ganz aims to bring nature back into the forefront while acknowledging the reality of a manufacturing world. Her pieces are largely constructed from recylced materials.

“Edward S. Curtis: The Grand Idea,” marking the controversial photographer’s 150th birthday, is also on display at the museum. The exhibit features Curtis’ photos of Native Americans juxtaposed with the reflections of modern tribal members.

Admission to the museum galleries is covered by the event ticket.


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