A grand reopening nearly 30 years in the making will take place this Saturday, May 16, when the Park Theater opens its doors to the community.
Everyone is invited to see the recently renovated Main Street venue, a more than $2 million project that took over a year to complete.
“For folks who remember the Park, a lot of memories will be rekindled,” said McMinnville Mayor Jim-my Haley. “For the younger generation, new memories will be created. The re-lit marquee signals how I feel, that this is a beacon for good things to come. This project was a long time coming, but those good things are worth waiting for.”
The city renovated the Park Theater for use as a multi-purpose facility. It has a stage for plays and live performances and a retractable screen where movies can be shown. It can also be reserved for functions such as reunions and wedding receptions.
The open house is this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with entertainment throughout. The Warren County High School choir will kick off the day. Then Miss Banana Pudding Katherine Tubb will be demonstrating the ballet routine she will be performing at the Miss Tennessee Pageant next month. At noon, the Joe Harvey Band will take the stage.
“I cannot wait to see people's expressions as they walk into the theater for the first time,” said Park Theater coordinator Sara Morgan. “I feel this will be an event to remember for a lifetime and I hope everyone has a chance to stop by even if it’s just for a minute. I hope this is the first event of many, many more to come.”
The open house is a free event. Residents are encouraged to come and go as they please.
“No tickets are needed,” said Morgan. “Stop in and watch any of the entertainment or just come in to look around.”
At 6 p.m., The South Jackson Street Band’s brass quintet will kick off a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Bill Zechman will be the host for the event and introduce guest speakers. From approximately 7:30-10 p.m., the South Jackson Street Band will perform.
Morgan says the ribbon-cutting ceremony is also free to the public, however, reservations must be made in order not to exceed the maximum number of individuals allowed in the building.
“We have a limited number of seating and there could be a capacity issue with the number of people wanting to attend the event,” she said. “With that in mind, we are asking those that want to attend to reserve their spot by getting a ticket from the Park Theater website. Tickets will also be available at the door on the evening of the event.”
Park Theater first opened its doors on Oct. 18, 1939. Cowan Oldham spent $50,000 constructing what was considered to be the most modern building and movie theater of its time. It closed in 1986. McMinnville officials have spent more than one year and in excess of $2 million renovating, moderniz-ing and attempting to preserve specific architectural features of the building, such as the medallions that were partially destroyed and restoring the marquee.
Individuals looking for even more nostalgia should check out what Haley has lined up. According to Morgan, he has organized antique cars to line Main Street starting at 5 p.m.
“The antique cars lining Main Street will make a perfect picture opportunity,” she said.