By MORGAN MANNS
From railroads to booming businesses to quality glass products, Fostoria is rich with history.
While the Fostoria Area Historical Society preserves pieces of the city’s past, members are taking it one step further again this year with another live reenactment of notorious outlaw John Dillinger’s famed Fostoria heist.
“The Dillinger robbery is one of the most exciting and dramatic events in Fostoria history,” Leonard Skonecki, historical society president, said. “There are still lots of people who remember Dillinger. It’s a part of local history and it’s an exciting part.”
Legend has it on May 3, 1934, Dillinger and his band of thieves stormed the First National Bank of Fostoria, unleashing gunfire on police officers and citizens before escaping with more than $17,000 in cash and bonds — the equivalent of more than $300,000 today.
While the event put Dillinger on the FBI’s Most Wanted List as “Public Enemy No. 1” back in the 1930s, it has also put him on the Fostoria Area Historical Society’s list of history to preserve today.
“Dillinger Days,” slated May 5 and 6, will offer community members front-row seats for a trip back in time to the day Dillinger and his men hit the First National Bank at the site of the raid — the BANKquet Hall, 125 S. Main St.
Because the interior of the building has not been substantially altered over the years, still housing teller windows and a vault, Skonecki said it offers the perfect place for the reenactment, putting the audience right in the center of the show.
“Last year, as Dillinger took hostages, he went and robbed the audience (of play money) used as table decorations,” Skonecki said. “Everyone got a kick out of it.”
The audience can expect similar interaction with the cast during this year’s event, he added.
The reenactment will include roughly a dozen characters from Dillinger himself to bank employees and customers to a narrator, police officers and the famed FBI agent who is said to have ended Dillinger’s multi-state crime spree in July of 1934.
Tickets for this year’s event will be on sale every Saturday until the event, beginning this Saturday. Historical society members can purchase tickets from noon-2 p.m. while members of the general public may purchase tickets from 2-4 p.m. at Foster’s Museum on Main Street, 105 N. Main St.
“Last year was a success and people were clamoring for tickets,” board Member Steve Cramer said, emphasizing this year’s event will take place two days rather than just one. “We’re trying some different things and hoping it’s a bigger success this year.”
The two-day extravaganza will kick off at 6 p.m. May 5 with cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres, followed by the reenactment at 7 p.m. A brief intermission will begin at 7:30 p.m. while those in attendance can travel a short distance down the road to the VFW, 112 W. Tiffin St., for a dance slated 8-11 p.m. New this year, the dance will feature the Big Band sound of Night Jazz.
Cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres will also begin at 6 p.m. May 6, with dinner at 7 p.m. and the reenactment at 8:30 p.m.
Seating is limited to 84 people per night. Ticket costs are $35 for May 5 and $45 for May 6.
Proceeds will go toward the Fostoria Area Historical Society’s general fund to help with future events and to keep the society operational.
The Fostoria Area Historical Society operates Foster’s Museum on Main Street as well as the Historical Society Museum, 123 W. North St. For more information, visit the Fostoria Area Historical Society Facebook page.