Civil rights leaders, athletes and pop-culture icons populated Henry Miller Plaza for this year’s Wax Museum.
The annual production is the culmination of Los Banos High School’s Advanced Placement U.S. history class. The students dress up as the historical figures they’ve researched and tell passers-by about their accomplishments.
Kayla Davis and Kelvin Chemparathy portrayed Corretta Scott King and her husband Martin Luther King Jr. at the May 23 event. They started pursuing the civil rights activists separately, but ultimately chose to team up for their presentation.
“I was actually Angela Davis at first because I thought she’d be someone cool to do, but I was talking to my father about it more and he said you should be Corretta Scott King because she made a huge difference in the black population,” Davis said.
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The plaza held 67 historical characters that ran the gamut from athletes Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax to gunslinger Wyatt Earp and actresses Lucille Ball and Shirley Temple.
Luke Sanchez stood at the edge of a canopy dressed in a 1930s-style suit and described the exploits of Al Capone. Sanchez said his research of Scarface led him to some surprising discoveries despite how much is commonly known about the mobster.
“I learned he was actually a generous man. He started some of the first soup kitchens during the Great Depression in Chicago,” Sanchez said.
The history students had a dress rehearsal at Lorena Falasco Elementary School. History teacher Tim McNally allowed some of the children to participate in the Wax Museum as miniature versions of the characters their high school counterparts portrayed.
Brandon Fabian, 10, was the smaller version of Roberto Clemente. When asked why he chose the deceased Pittsburgh Pirate right fielder, Fabian responded, “Because I want to play baseball.”
Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who was the first civilian chosen by NASA to fly into space but died when the space shuttle Challenger blew up before leaving the atmosphere, was portrayed by Rosa Sandavol. She said McAuliffe was easy to research, but she was not able to find much information about her children. Sandavol also said she had many adults tell her where they were and what they were doing when the shuttle blew up in 1986.
McNally, who has had his students produce the Wax Museum for about a decade, is retiring. He said he doesn’t believe it will be the end of the event, because his replacement seems enthusiastic about continuing the tradition.