Stunt crew keeps folks jumping at Los Alamos event
photo by Ed Souza Spectators dressed in Old-West garb watch the parade from the balcony of the historic Union Hotel

Not many men in today's world would jump at the chance to fall off the second floor balcony of Los Alamos historic Union Hotel.

But then again, Harvey Sikes, third generation Hollywood stuntman, isn't much for modern times. "It's like going back in time," explained Sikes, still breathing after his second fall of the day. "This is the way it was - everything is original in there and we don't want to lose it."

The 102-year-old Union Hotel, stood center stage at the Los Alamos Old Days as Saturday's crowd circled around to watch the antics of six grown adults pretending to spit, punch, stab and kill each other - all for the love of one old building.

Christine William, owner and round-the-clock matron of the working hotel, said she was a little surprised when Sikes showed up for one of the hotel's Murder Mystery nights and suggested that she let him fall off her balcony, but she quickly warmed up to the idea.

The crew is charging nothing for their efforts and giving all donations from spectators straight back to the hotel, which William expects to go far.

"I probably run 20 to 30,000 people through here on tour every year just for free," said William. "When you do preservation, it's a huge effort."

Every little item in the former stagecoach stop is circa early 20th century, from the door knob that leads you in to the pool table you lay your cards down on.

But the hotel met some real competition Saturday as far as old Western get-up and presentation goes from the True West group, who may not have has as much history as the building, but are coming close.

Sikes, for example, has evidence of his first stunt, performed at age 8 when he jumped off his uncle's roof.

"If you're afraid of being hurt you shouldn't be part of the business," he said, pointing to a scar above his eyebrow and laughing.

Sikes spent 35 years bucking horses in TV westerns in Hollywood, but others are just starting to get bitten by the stuntman bug, such as Shiloh Jones, 17, of Buellton.

"I like it," said Jones, who works at the hotel, but volunteered Saturday to join the show. "I've been into acting and it's just a part of acting that a lot of people aren't doing. It's just not the typical drama stuff."

To learn more about the Union Hotel and their other old West events, go to www.unionhotelvictmansion.com or call 1-800-230-2744.

Staff writer Kirsten Flagg can be reached at 739-2206 or e-mail at kflagg@pulitzer.net.

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