Hole in the Wall Gang aims to help children during Fall Festival

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When cowboys stride into the main square, bystanders await eventful moments. The Hole in the Wall Gang, a Lakeside-based Western historical reenactment group, exceeded those expectations as the would-seem outlaws and lawmen took center stage as blank bullet rounds split the air, and cowboys bit the dust in mock gunfights at the Fall Festival of Lemon Grove’s St. John of the Cross Catholic Church on Sept. 27-29. 

When cowboys stride into the main square, bystanders await eventful moments. The Hole in the Wall Gang, a Lakeside-based Western historical reenactment group, exceeded those expectations as the would-seem outlaws and lawmen took center stage as blank bullet rounds split the air, and cowboys bit the dust in mock gunfights at the Fall Festival of Lemon Grove’s St. John of the Cross Catholic Church on Sept. 27-29. 

These cowboys perform  shoot out skits based closely on real incidents, with a few humorous touches, which HITW Gang associates videotape and review, to assure historical faithfulness and to remove any anachronisms that have crept into performances. The Gang’s judge, “Doc” (Michael-David Blaylock), lists his duties as “arresting people and making noise.” Any audience member committing offenses such as felony attempt to impersonate a human being, felony sarcasm, or grand mopery with intent to gawk is hauled before Doc. Offenders who cannot recite the Hole in the Wall Gang creed to Doc’s satisfaction—the recitation requires fluency in spoonerisms—are locked up in the Gang’s jail until bailed out with a donation to the Gang’s charity fund. All proceeds were slated for the Magic Horse Therapeutic Riding program, which provides horse-child interactions for children with disabilities, with special focus on youngsters with autism. “Rebel,” (HITWG President David Sommerville) reported the event garnered more than double the Gang’s usual fundraising totals.

The Hole in the Wall Gang was established in 1947 by a group of veterans and professionals entranced with the Old West and keeping its history alive in vivid memory.  The Gang appears in 13 to 15 parades each year, and is the longest running equestrian entry in El Cajon’s Mother Goose Parade, participation dating to the early 1980’s.

A three-day annual event held the last weekend of September for 73 years, the Fall Festival kicked off with a good night of attendance on Friday, said Tammy Graham, who has chaired the event for five years. The festival is the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year, featuring child-friendly rides, games, snacks, vendors with arts and crafts for sale, a silent auction, and a white elephant sale. The Knights of Columbus, San Miguel Council, No. 3667, manned food booths,  a biergarten, and home-baked goods were offered at the Sweet Shoppe.

Ten-year parishioner Carmen Carroll said the event is “fellowship and camaraderie and watching how the kids of the church are growing up well from year to year.” 

Director of Religious Education Jesse Ramirez said, “If you missed it this year, come next year. Come one, come all.”