Last Saturday, June 7, was the 29th anniversary of the theatrical release of “The Goonies.” The movie, filmed in Astoria, Oregon and the surrounding areas, has garnered quite a cult following since its release. Each year more and more people fall in love with Mikey and his misfit crew of adventurers.
So much so, that back in 2010, as part of the 25th anniversary, Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen declared June 7 to be officially recognized as Goonies Day. Each year more and more Goonies, including myself, flock to the small coastal town to explore the Goondocks.
I first heard about the celebration a couple weeks ago and knew immediately that I needed to be a part of this. Astoria is only 3 hours or so away. Besides, it’s not the first time I’ve pilgrimaged to the setting of movie with some trusty traveling companions. (Read about our grand Forks, WA adventure here.) At least this time it was for a movie I like to laugh with, and not at.
For those who don’t know, “The Goonies” is about a group for friends being forced to move because there houses are being foreclosed on. They find an old treasure map in the attic and decide to search for the missing treasure of the infamous pirate One-Eyed Willy. There are dead bodies, booty .. err, I mean booby, traps, and the criminal clan, the Fratelli’s, hot on their heels.
The first thing my friend and I did, after checking into our hotel, was go to a late-night screening of the film at the Columbian Theater.
First off, this is a really cool old mediterranean revival style theater. Mega-plexes are great and I love stadium seating as much as the next person, but give me an old-school single screen theater with all the architectural richness and characteristics that come with a theater built in the 1920’s. If we’d gotten in a little sooner we would have been able to lounge back on couches that have replaced some rows of traditional seats.
But no matter, our seats were perfect for sitting back and enjoying the film with the 100+ other fans that came out that night. We laughed together, cheered together, and shouted out classic lines together.
Our Saturday started with a tour of the house used for filming. The Walsh home sits high on a hill above Astoria at 368 38th Street. While the inside has been renovated the outside is still fairly recognizable as the iconic home (sans gate-opening mechanism). Inside was hard to place at first but during the tour, our guide, current home-owner Sandi Preston, made sure to point out what was filmed where to help.
As soon as we climbed the stairs there it was, the attic door. We were going to get to see the Goonie attic! I was slightly disheartened to learn that the movie’s attic scenes weren’t filmed on location. (The actual house’s attic is too tiny to hold the cast, the props, and the film crew.) But we got to climb up anyway and take in the beautiful views of the town. While up there Sandi answered questions and told stories about visits from some of the movies cast and crew over the years.
After our tour we went to the Oregon Film Museum, housed in the old jail and where the film’s opening scenes were filmed. Out front was the Fratelli’s jeep, complete with bullet holes. Across the street is the Flavel House, which was used as the museum where Mr. Walsh worked.
The museum pays tribute to all the many films that have been filmed in Oregon over the years (“The Shining,” “Kindergarten Cop,” “Free Willy,” “Stand by Me,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Animal House,” just to name a few) but is mostly dedicated to the town’s pride and joy, “The Goonies.” Half of the museum has the old jail cells with character cut-outs and “Goonies” memorabilia displayed.
The other half is an interactive section with different filming sets so guests can re-enact scenes from one of six movies filmed in the state. After hearing the list of options my friend and I knew exactly which movie we were going to do … “Twilight.” It was the science lab scene where Bella and Edward first talk. She was Bella, I was Edward, and we were fantastic! Truly, the best Bella and Edward to ever exist. EVER! (As soon as I get the video link I’ll include it here.)
Next it was time for the treasure hunt!
As part of the weekend the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce organized a city-wide treasure hunt. It really meant just going around to 26 businesses (23 in Astoria, 3 in Warrenton) and getting a stamp on your “map.” Each stamp earned you one raffle ticket for a prize and a completed map got you a special Goonies Day button.
This was more fun than I expected. Also, once you started going around and seeing how many stamps other Goonies had gotten you felt a sudden sense urgency to finish before they did. Everyone got into the spirit of the day. Lots of the businesses also offered special giveaways to treasure hunters, like truffles from Columbia Chocolates, pirate coins from Commercial Street Antiques, North Coast Distilling was supposed to have Baby Ruth infused rum but it went bad so they had to substitute gummy worm flavored, and Rogue Public House gave out “pirate booty” (aka bandanas, eye patches, and skull rings).
Some restaurants had special Goonies themed menu items, like our lunch at the Wet Dog Cafe. They offered up a special Goonies burger, which was really just a cheeseburger, but it was still really yummy.
After turning in our almost completed treasure hunt maps (we drove all over Warrenton but could not find Skipanon Brand Seafood but they gave us buttons anyway) it was time for the group truffle shuffle.
As we pulled up to Warren Field we could hear audio clips from the film being played over a loudspeaker, our favorite being Chunk’s tearful confession to the Fratelli’s of everything he’s ever done wrong in his life after they threaten to put his hand in a blender. Though I couldn’t get my friend out on the field, I joined in with the 150 or so people that gathered, some even in costume.
Afterwards there was only one thing left to do.