What began as an idea about a year ago is continuing it's path toward fruition.
The Help Entertain and Restore Organization, HERO, is nearing its second fundraising goal toward their effort to reopen the Webster Theater. While Jeff Pingel, HERO committee member, said it's exciting to see the movie house one step closer toward opening, much work remains to be done.
Several projects will be funded with the completion of this second phase of fundraising. In mid-March, volunteers helped move the 35 millimeter projected from the projection booth down to the theater's basement. Fundraising money will be used to purchase a digital projector for the Webster Theater. Pingel said HERO is looking into what projector they will purchase. They will also be working on the building's roof and one of the restrooms.
Jeff Pingel, committee member of the Help Entertain and Restore Organization, looks at the old 35 millimeter camera that was used for many years in the Webster Theater. The projector became obsolete this year as major film studios began using digital projectors as the industry standard. With the change, so many old projectors like this are being sold that Pingel said it’s worth more as scrap. Still, Pingel said he’s sad to see this relic go.
The old projector will likely be sold for scrap. Pingel said after digital became the standard for projectors, old reel projectors began flooding the market. As such, he said HERO would get more money selling it for parts. However, some items left in the theater including old film reels will be sold through a third-party. Remaining posters at the theater will be sold for a dollar apiece at Junquefest which will be held on Memorial Day weekend in Webster City. Pingel said those who purchase a poster at Junquefest have a one in 10 chance of winning a free movie pass.
While HERO is looking to sell or recycle what it can, there's still much to trash and clean at the theater. To help with that, HERO is calling on community members to come to a "Muscle Day" at the theater beginning at 8 a.m. on April 12. On that day, Pingel said HERO members and volunteers will clean and paint the projection booth, storage room and office. Muscle will also be needed to clean out trash and unusable equipment in the theater's basement.
Volunteers will be able to tour any parts of the theater they want to see. HERO will provide doughnuts. Organizers ask that volunteers bring rags, a broom and cleaning supplies if available. Pingel said anyone willing to help is invited.
"We want to see kids small and tall, adults, grandparents, friends, anyone and everyone down here," Pingel said.
Some larger items that HERO hopes to clean out of the basement, including old washers and dryers, will be available for pickers after they're hauled out on April 12.
As HERO and community members get cleaning, the organization is keeping an eye on its third and final fundraising goal. The first two goals were about $24,000 to purchase the theater and about $80,000 to renovate the building. Soon, HERO will begin raising up to about $130,000 for their last fundraising goal. That funding would give HERO their estimated operating expenses for one year, which Pingel said would serve as a safety net.
"We could break even one year and still have the funds to stick around," Pingel said.
However, Pingel said he doesn't foresee the organization waiting to raise all of that money before they reopen the Webster Theater. Their minimum goal is to raise half of that $130,000. If repairs go smoothly and fundraising goes well during the summer, Pingel said the theater could reopen on its target date of Sept. 1.
For more information, visit WebsterTheater.org