Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley waits in Eleanor Park to film a scene from “Kid Galahad.” Town Crier File Photo

Years ago, a local organization called the 39ers sponsored social events that brought the wider Idyllwild community together. A group of active older adults are looking to do the same with an Aug. 20 potluck social and an outdoor screening of Elvis Presley’s boxing ring romantic musical “Kid Galahad.” This movie was shot largely on location in Idyllwild in 1961 at the peak of Presley’s popularity.

In 1961, Idyllwild was not physically so different from today, but culturally the differences were marked — certainly fewer residents, probably more small-town ambience and neighborly familiarity, and regular community “socials” held at Town Hall. Presley’s arrival in 1961 was a huge local event — possibly the most excitement to hit the town since it came into existence. Presley charmed villagers with his easy-going personality, talent and charisma. Locals were seen as extras in the movie.

“Kid Galahad” film crew in Idyllwild in front of the Idyllwild Inn, November 1961. Town Crier file photo
So much of Idyllwild in the 1960s is there on screen — Eleanor Park with its stone walls before Jo’An’s was built, the Hidden Lodge (now a residence on Glen Road), where interiors and exteriors were shot, Creekstone Inn and many other recognizable Idyllwild and Hill locations from a different time. Although only 50 years ago, the look of the town, the feel of the film, the overarching innocence of the plot and musical numbers compared with today’s MTV slickness — all of it is a reminder of how much we’ve changed and how much innocence we may have lost.

The new group is looking to rekindle some of that innocent communal good fun of “old Idyllwild” with this event. Billed as “family fun for all and a social gathering for the community,” the party begins with the potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Town Hall. Everyone is welcome and all are asked to bring a homemade dish to share. The sponsoring seniors are providing drinks and place settings. And, at least one Elvis impersonator will be gyrating among the diners.

After dinner, at dusk, “Kid Galahad” will screen outdoors. The event is being offered, according to organizers, as a way of bringing the community together for a fun and family-friendly evening, much like the ones the community used to enjoy 50 years ago.

Bring chairs and blankets for the screening of the film. There is no cost for this event.

An ad published in the Town Crier, thanking the town. Town Crier file photo