Tim Fealy remembers the excitement of the on-location shooting in Crown Point in 2008 for the film "Public Enemies."
"We had people coming from all over the Midwest to Crown Point during those three or four days of filming here hoping to catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp shooting his scenes playing (John) Dillinger," Fealy recalled."It was like Hollywood meeting Hoosier history all at the same time."
Notorious gangster John Dillinger, who was originally born and raised on a farm just outside of Indianapolis, put tiny Crown Point in international headlines after his infamous 1933 break-out from the Lake County Jail by fooling officers with a fake gun carved from either soap or wood. His escape earned him the title of "Public Enemy No. 1." The jail, which is now a museum, was used as a location for scenes in the film.
Fealy, founder and president of a company called Hometown Happenings, began working with Crown Point city officials earlier this year to plan a charity event, including a Dillinger and "Public Enemies" film-homage run and walk, to celebrate Crown Point's big screen claim-to-fame.
"The concept of our organization is to sponsor various events, usually runs and walks around Northwest Indiana, as a way to give back to the community while also encouraging family time and the importance of health and fitness activities," Fealy said.
Fealy's Hometown Happenings Public Enemy 5K/10K event begins at 7 a.m. June 25 at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 889 S. Court St.. The course of the run and walk is the wooded terrain near the fairgrounds, including a lroute with a covered bridge, historic buildings and around a small lake.
The price to sign up for the run/walk includes a souvenir t-shirt and included the option of pre-registration for $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger, compared to the $30 fee after June 23.
Other activities at the event include 1930s attire costume contests, a "find the money sack" scavenger hunt, a soap gun carving contest and drinks, food and music. There will also be displays dedicated to both the film "Public Enemies" and John Dillinger, including the actual Tommy Machine Gun used by Dillinger during his final months, a 1929 Ford Model A Tudor car used in the filming of "Public Enemies" and Crown Point Police K-9 dog demonstrations.
"Part of the money raised is being donated to the Crown Point Police so they can buy a new K-9 training 'bite suit' for officers since their existing suit has been shredded during previous training," Fealy said.
"We are also going to give out a Sheriff Holley Award this year, it's named for Lake County Sheriff Lillian Holley, who was the sheriff at the time of Dillinger's escape. We are giving this year's award to Lauren Mauk and her organization Mommy's Haven, which is a maternity home which is now being built in Lowell."
Fealy said the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority is also providing support for the event and sponsoring a special ticket admission for guests to visit the John Dillinger Museum, located in the lower level of the Crown Point Courthouse.
"Even though John Dillinger is associated with crime and murders, there can still be good that can come associated with his name," Fealy said. "We want this event to recall history and our Crown Point Hollywood footnote while raising money for a good cause."
Philip Potempa is a freelance writer for the Post-Tribune.