WAY BACK WHEN: The Cisco Kid rides into town
It was 1957 and having The Cisco Kid come to Grand Junction was a really big deal for fans of this popular TV show.
The city was celebrating its Diamond Jubilee, the 75th anniversary of George Crawford’s founding of the town. The celebration lasted for a week but the preparations took months and months. Men grew beards, women sewed custom costumes for the whole family, and the committee prepared an ambitious schedule for the big doings including a parade down Main Street scheduled for every day of the Jubilee, except Sunday.
Youth Day was to take place on Tuesday, Sept. 17. The day would start with a Jubilee midway and carnival set up at 20th and Gunnison on what must have been an empty lot at the time. For the merchants it was “Bargain Day,” where many prices would be the same as they were in 1882. School was dismissed early at 10 a.m. and the Youth Day parade began at 11 a.m. sharp. Decorated bikes, costumes, pets, horses, wagons and vehicles of all kinds lined up. Duncan Renaldo, “The Cisco Kid,” was the highly anticipated parade marshal, brought to town by Arden Meadow Gold. The parade ended with a mass of bands playing “The Star Spangled Banner.” Come 12 o’clock, all the children were invited to meet Cisco and his horse at Lincoln Park. He promised to meet each kid and shake every hand. He did more than that — he gave away black and white photos of him and his horse Diablo. Many were personalized.
The day continued with a chewing gum contest, ice cream eating contest, a three-legged race and a candy scramble, all at Lincoln Park. At 5 p.m., The Cisco Kid gave away the first prize as promised: a pony, complete with a saddle and all the trappings. Second prize was a girls’ bike and third prize was a boys’ bike.
The Daily Sentinel reported that Diamond Jubilee officials expected a record number of people to come out to see their hero that day. Some 5,000 were expected with many traveling from as far as Durango and Meeker.
On the Facebook page, You Know You’re From Grand Junction When…, several people remembered that day.
Bobbi Mitchell: My brother and I received that very same “glossy” picture of The Cisco Kid, signed by him! We waited in a long line at Lincoln Park with our mom, and when it was our turn to meet and shake hands and get our pictures, he kissed our mom! I’ll never forget that!
Beverly Grossman: I remember standing in that long line to get an autographed picture of The Cisco Kid. It was so hot and he was really sweating in his cowboy outfit. I felt sorry for him having to put up with all us kids. But he was very kind and friendly.
Gayle Dew-Knehans: I had one of those pictures. Stood in line for a long time, but it was worth it, I even got a kiss on the cheek. Thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Bella Conner: Oh, how I LOVED The Cisco Kid! Duncan Renaldo was my hero! When he came to GJ, I had sprained my ankle, so I was on the side of the street with my ankle all bandaged up, I was sitting on one little chair, and my foot was raised on another. When he came by with his horse, he stopped, and got down OFF his horse, and came over to shake my hand. I was 6 years old, and in love!
Sounds like he was a real ladies man.
I was just 4 years old and probably in Wichita at the time. It wasn’t until years later that Melanie Johnson and I would be fixtures at every parade downtown involving a horse. Which was all of them back then, as now. Though none may ever rival the appearance of The Cisco Kid.