Tombstone merchants corral profits, ideas for tomorrow

Statistics don’t tell the story of a community.

Reports can’t capture how a town’s aesthetic woos the bond between patron and merchant. Institutional determinations made from afar will always fail to paint the picture of what a city feels like, or how its streets sound under moonlight.

The mileposts that say Tombstone is facing economic hardships are cropping up, but local merchants know differently.

For the last seven years, the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park has turned a profit every week, said co-owner Lee McKechnie.

“We’ve had bad days of course, you have to, but we’ve never had a bad week,” said McKechnie. “And every year business has been growing.”

Lee McKechnie playing “Ringo” at the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park daily gunfight. (Photo by: David J. Del Grande / Arizona Sonora News Service)

When he starts the performance, McKechnie lays the ground rules for the audience. The “good guys” will be wearing a blue sash, and the “bad guys” wear an opposing red sash. And no matter what, the good guy always wins, he explains. If the crowd doesn’t seem lively, he fires off a round in order to rouse the spectators.

McKechnie actively promotes the gunfight reenactment at the O.K. Corral Historic Complex, he said, and that should be the first stop for new visitors.

But in order to stand out, McKechnie’s troop offers a “hysterically correct” account of the Old West, which blends history and comedy throughout the routine.

Read the entire article via the Arizona Sonora News Service. Originally published May 2, 2018.

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