Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mark Twains Birthday Bash in Redding Connecticut

The Parks and Recreation Dept of Redding Connecticut has arranged an exciting 175th Birthday Bash for Mark Twain, who died in Redding. With his passing, Redding, Connecticut acquired a unique distinction: Mark Twain’s final home. And while that distinction is of trivial interest, it is what transpired after his death that has kept Twain’s life and legacy alive and well in Redding.

Almost immediately after his arrival, Twain took interest in founding a public library for the residents of Redding. Why was this of interest to him? Perhaps it was in his genes…John Marshall Clemens, Twain’s father, is said to have been instrumental in founding the first Hannibal, Missouri Library.

To create Redding’s first public library, Twain donated books from his own collection. Next Twain went into fundraising mode, a role he greatly enjoyed. Male visitors to Stormfield were “taxed” $1 dollar, concerts were held, and his friends and associates were urged to contribute to the cause. He was very successful. Large contributions of books were sent to Redding by Collier’s Weekly, Harper & Brothers, and by Page & Company.

From 1908 to 1910, the library was a focal point for Twain. In fact one of his final acts was approving a check for the library building fund. Since that time, the Mark Twain Library has grown and it has evolved but what it has remained is a tribute to Mark Twain’s legacy. Visitors of the Mark Twain Library are surrounded by photos, paintings, quotations, artwork and sculptures… there is little doubt that you have entered the “Mark Twain” library. But, more importantly, the Mark Twain Library keeps Mark Twain alive.

On Tuesday November 30th, Twain’s 175th Birthday, the town of Redding is planning an exciting day that includes a Mark Twain impersonator who will visit points of interest throughout the town. The impersonator will give two performances at the Redding Community Center.

There will also be a showing of the 1939 Huck Finn movie starring Mickey Rooney, at 4 pm. at the Redding Community Center because it is the 125th anniversary of the first publication of this book. Nationally recognized Mark Twain impersonator, Alan Kitty, will be on hand before the film’s 4:30 showing to discuss one of his favorite characters. The film will be viewed in honor of the 125th Anniversary of the book’s first printing.

At 7:00 pm at the Redding Community Center there will be a world first preview of “Dangerous Intimacy” an exciting documentary produced by History Film Inc, a non-profit organization. The documentary, based on the book by Karen Lystra, tells the untold story of Mark Twain’s final years. Many of the scenes were filmed in Redding using local actors and locations. The director and producer of the film, Richard Altomonte, will give a brief talk about it’s creation and a question answer period after the film. Tickets are $5.00 each & can be purchased at the Redding Park & Recreation, call: 203-938-2551.

A display of The Mark Twain Centennial Collection” of limited edition prints, by Portrait Artist Susan B. Durkee, will be on sale, and a Mark Twain and Redding Historical Display will be on view at the Redding Community Center.
The proceeds of the event are to benefit created by historian, Brent Colley.

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