Saving the Webster Theater

I’m looking forward to the meeting on Wednesday concerning the possibility of having a community-run movie theater in town. The Webster Theater has been such a staple in the community for so long that I think it’s only right that we try to do what we can to save it.

It seems like every small town had a movie theater back in the day. I remember as a child of the 1960s, going to matinees at the movie theater in my small hometown of Madrid. It was located just up the street from my house. I spent many a Saturday afternoon – as well as my weekly allowance -watching wonderful Disney-made movies like “The Nine Lives of Thomasina,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” and many others.

With a little box of popcorn and a small soda – which was a real treat back then -I sat with dozens of other people watching the flickering screen. There’s just something about watching a movie on a big screen with a bunch of people that makes it more exciting or funny or frightening (depending upon the genre) than sitting at home and watching it on your television. It’s that shared experience – the ohhs, ahhs, giggles or screams that make movie-going exciting.

In today’s world, it would be tough to compete with the multi-plex movie houses, but I think a small town theater can definitely find its niche. Maybe the theater could specialize in classic movies or bring back some of those fantastic Disney films. Maybe Webster City could host a film festival of Iowa-made or Iowa-themed movies like “Field of Dreams,” “Twister,” “Bridges of Madison County,” and especially “Follow Me, Boys,” based on MacKinley Kantor’s book “For God and Country.” Maybe we could invite Kurt Russell – the actor who starred with Fred McMurray in “Follow Me Boys.” Maybe we could invite actor Dan Ackroyd back – he was here in the 1980s, you know. He even mentions Webster City in the film “The Couch Trip.”

I look forward to hearing all of the ideas from Jim Davies of Hampton. That community turned their movie house into a community-run theater. I’d love to see this Webster City icon be saved in some way. I plan to attend the meeting at the middle school Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

How about you?