The lights are on
All my life, my favorite place in McMinnville has been the Park Theater. As a child of the late '70s and early '80s, there was something about the big, red neon sign on Main Street that drew me like a moth to a flame.
It was the place where my dad took me as a 3-year-old to see the original Star Wars in 1977. It's where I saw Superman, E.T., Flash Gordon, The Jungle Book, Pete's Dragon, Rocky and so many more.
My love of the Park Theater continued to live even through its days as a Social Security office. I'd gaze at the sign looming above the marquee that had been covered over and remember what once was. I'd go into the Social Security office and look for any signs of my old happy place.
My love of the Park runs so deep that, in 2008, before there was any real renovation taking place, I proposed to my now-wife, Ashley, in front of the boarded-up doors of the theater and we even considered having our wedding there when it was little more than a dusty, musty basement.
I say all this to say how grateful I am to see it alive and thriving today. I give thanks to Sandra Haynes and the rest of the Park Theatre Group for all the work they did to keep the memories alive and to advance the cause of renovating the theater. I thank Jimmy Haley and all the leadership in the city at that time who pushed the renovation across the finish line.
And I'm thankful for the new leadership that's taking the Park to new heights through their efforts to improve the lineup of entertainment offered in the grand showplace. Park Theater Manager Joe Harvey, along with the Park Theater Advisory Board and his administrative assistant, Jennifer Pedigo, are striving to increase both the frequency and the quality of events offered and, in my view, they are succeeding.
In addition to featuring local theater, such as Dream Reality Group productions led by Logan Taylor, Joe and the advisory board have pushed for a bigger budget to aid in booking more shows and bigger draws.
It has resulted in a quality lineup this year that's kept the big red sign lit up regularly for the last few weekends and that will continue throughout the month.
Just in the last few weeks the theater has presented country star Keith Anderson, renowned bluegrass singer Dan Tyminski, noted comedian James Gregory and nationally known Queen tribute band, The Kings of Queen.
On a personal note, I attended last Saturday night's Kings of Queen show and had an absolute blast. Lead singer Emo Alaeddin commanded the stage with the trademark strut and swagger of Freddie Mercury and thoroughly entertained the large crowd. The show was indicative of the kind of crowd-pleasing talent that Park leadership is committed to bringing in.
This weekend saw a Veterans Day celebration and the Chip Greene & Friends benefit show. The rest of the month will bring country legends Confederate Railroad and Joe's own band, The Joe Harvey Band, always a McMinnville favorite. Next year's lineup is already off to a great start with Grammy-nominated folk duo The Milk Carton Kids scheduled to appear Jan. 20.
While not quite old enough to have the fond childhood memories of the Park that I have, Joe is a homegrown McMinnville boy who loves the community and knows the important role the Park Theater holds in it. I applaud his effort thus far, including the little things he's done such as lighting the Park sign during community events that draw people to Main Street, even when they don't necessarily involve the theater. I know I'm always a little happier being downtown when the Park lights are on.
After seeing what Joe and his team have done in less than a year on the job, I feel the future of the Park Theater is as bright as its iconic neon sign.
Old School sings
School is out and camping is in at the former Centertown School. Sam Tune bought the old school building a couple years ago and has been renting out the gym which features inflatables, pool tables, ping-pong, air hockey and basketball. He's hosted parties, reunions and even a couple weddings.
Recently, Sam has turned his attention to the old Centertown baseball field and has hit a home run with campers. The business is called Skoolhouse Campground and is off to a good start.
"Behind the school, we took what was the original baseball field and we've developed a RV park and campground. It's pretty nice. It's worked out just exactly like we wanted it to. It's been a real good project," Tune said. "It should be good for everybody, good for us, good for Middle Tennessee, good for Warren County and good for McMinnville. We've got five campers right now and two on the way. By the end of November, we should have eight to ten campers here. We have 21 sites."
The sites are set up for people to bring in their own campers but Sam is entertaining the notion of putting in 2-4 of his own campers for rent, either long-term or as an Airbnb.
"We broke ground here Oct. 3 and we've been extremely blessed with the weather. We finished the construction in 30 days. I'm very blessed that, in the first two weeks, we have several campers," Sam said.
Skoolhouse Camp-ground offers some things that not every campground can. "We are open 12 months out of the year. Some campgrounds close from October to April but we do not close. We offer full water, sewer and electric hookup. All of our campsites are 50 amp and 30 amp electrical hookups. Not all campgrounds offer that. You can hook up your sewer just like at home; you don't have to go empty your sewer tank. We've put a lot of work, a lot of planning and a lot of money into this," Sam said.
Sam is helped in the project by his wife, Greta Tune. Sam is also appreciative of the help of local officials he has dealt with in launching the business. "The people in Warren County, the Codes Department, the Health Department, Caney Fork Electric, everybody has just been so cooperative and great to work with. Every entity we've dealt with, we've been so blessed to work with them. They've welcomed us with open arms."
Skoolhouse Camp-ground is located at 252 Line Street and Sam can be reached at (615) 849-6509.
A fast update
on fast pace
Fast Pace Physical Therapy has announced a ribbon cutting and grand opening Thursday at its location on Old Smithville Rd. According to Fast Pace's Facebook page, the business "provides personalized, helpful treatment for physical therapy and sports medicine injuries and conditions. Our goal is to have a developed plan that meets your care needs, improves mobility and limits future injuries."
Until Next time,
same biz time,
same biz page
Send all your business tips and suggestions to me at email@example.com and (931) 473-2191. Thanks to Ben Lomand Connect for sponsoring the column and thanks to you for reading.