Sunday, June 1, 2014

New Mexico: Haunted KiMo Theatre

KiMo Theatre
The KiMo Theatre is located in downtown Albuquerque on Central Avenue. This street is the original Route 66 that went from east to west through my hometown. 

The KiMo, like many theatres, has a superstitious practice that is observed. This practice is to appease one ghost that resides in the building.

The KiMo was constructed in 1927, and is known for its unique Art Deco and Pueblo-style architecture. 

A statewide contest was held to name the new theatre and the winning name KiMo was submitted by the Governor of Isleta Pueblo, Pablo Aberta--who won 50 dollars for his entry.

The word KiMo translated means “Mountain Lion” in the Tewa language. This word is also loosely translated to mean “king of its kind.”

This is a good description for this original movie house’s architecture, haunting and superstition are truly “one of a kind.”

Bobby Darnall
For decades the KiMo has housed the spirit of a restless child. In August of 1951 a 6-year-old boy, Robert “Bobby” Darnall was attending a screening of an Abbott and Costello movie at the KiMo with his parents.

Bobby was sitting in the balcony with friends when something on the screen frightened him. He ran down the stairwell just as a water heater or boiler in the basement under the lobby’s food concession counter exploded.

More than a dozen people were injured in this accident. Bobby was rushed to a hospital but died en route.

After his death, his ghost returned to the KiMo Theatre. Bobby’s spirit quickly gained a reputation for impish behavior. This haunting is sometimes classified as poltergeist activity.

Balcony stairs
A “lady” ghost wearing a bonnet is also seen walking through the hallways at the theatre. No one knows her backstory, but her presence appears to be residual in nature. She is seen going about her business and seems unaware of the living.

Bobby’s ghost, in comparison, is much more active. He likes to play tricks on both staff and patrons at the theatre. 

He is seen wearing a striped button-down shirt and blue jeans. He is often seen playing on the lobby’s staircases that lead to the balcony.

By 1977, the KiMo theatre was in significant disrepair. The citizens of Albuquerque approved a plan by the city to purchase the building--this saved it from being torn down. It has been completely restored to its original beauty. * 

Today the theatre is used for plays and musical performances.

View from stage
Ever since this renovation, Bobby is known to touch people. In particular, he likes to disturb live performances. Many actors have been tripped while performing on stage. 

Bobby also likes to make a variety of noises during performances.

* The KiMo Theatre is on National Register of Historic Places.

Because of Bobby’s mischief, the staff and visiting actors have built a shrine for him near a backstage stairwell. 

Actors that perform at the KiMo often hang doughnuts on a string for Bobby from a water pipe that runs along a back wall of the theatre.

Often these treats are gone the next morning. Many of those left hanging have been found with little bite marks taken out of them.

This shrine and the doughnut offerings most often appear to appease Bobby’s spirit for the activity settles down.

A stage production that performed at the KiMo one December did not offer these doughnuts.

This production of A Christmas Carol was plagued by several mishaps. The director connected to this show had for some reason ordered the doughnuts taken down.

During this play's technical rehearsal, they had problems with both the lighting and sound. During their first performance everything went wrong.

Actors forgot their lines, some tripped, others fell off the stage. Electrical cables fell down, and other falling equipment fell right at dramatic parts in various scenes.

Prop windows and doors opened and closed randomly or wouldn't open to let actors exit the stage. There were so many disruptions the cast almost did not finish the show.

The next night’s performance went much more smoothly. The director, after the first performance, ordered the doughnuts be replaced.

The theatre’s Art Deco/Pueblo style:

The swastika was a Native American symbol a long time before Hitler used it.
The one above is a Navajo symbol that represents a whirling log.

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