The Batmobile, the Bat-Signal and a handful of Caped Crusaders turned Walla Walla into a miniature Gotham City at today's Adam West Day celebrations. The events honored the life and legacy of TV's Batman and Whitman graduate Adam West (William West Anderson) '51 on what would have been his 89th birthday.
Walla Walla Mayor Allen Pomraning declared Adam West Day officially open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1st and Main streets this morning, before presenting a key to the city to family members of West, who died in June.
"It's a great way to honor a native son and well as an opportunity to bring the community together," said local lawyer Aimee Parmley, in attendance with her son, Isaac, age 4. Despite sporting a Batman cape and an action figure of the Dark Knight, Isaac decided against a photo with the "real-life" Batman, Clint Young, who was there to pose for pictures with other kids and families.
Pomraning also unveiled a street sign for "Honorary Adam West Way," which will soon be installed at the corner of Alvarado Terrace and Clinton Street, close to West's childhood home. West was a literature major and psychology minor at Whitman, as well as a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and an avid actor.
A private replica of the Batmobile made a follow-up appearance this afternoon at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center. The hotel also hosted animator, comic books artist and founder of the Burbank, California-based Masked Avenger Studios Rubén Procopio, who spoke to a crowd of around 100—including several Batmen in full costume. The 1960s Batman series had a huge impact on Procopio, whose family moved to the United States from Argentina when he was 5 years old, he said. At age 18, the young man followed in his father's footsteps when he took a job working for Walt Disney Studios.
Procopio met his idol, West, at the 1980 San Diego Comic-Con and the two became lifelong friends, he said. West was "an inspiration," Procopio added, praising his kindheartedness and grace.
Walla Walla local Jim McGuinn, who owns record store Hot Poop, also mentioned that he had heard many stories of West's kindness since his death. Hot Poop was one of many downtown businesses supporting Adam West Day with a promotion—in this case, a selection of Batman-themed music for sale, including the Batusi dance purportedly invented by West in an episode of the 1960s hit show.
Celebrations conclude later today with music downtown, a screening of the 2013 documentary Starring Adam West at the Gesa Power House Theatre and the relighting of the Bat-signal on the Marcus Whitman Hotel's rooftop. The signal had been lit in June upon West's death.