With opening night at the Webster Theater about a month away, the Help Entertain and Restore Organization is celebrating the completion of a major fundraising campaign.
On Thursday, HERO announced that all of the seats in the theater have been adopted. The campaign invited donors to purchase seats at $300 apiece to help reopen the movie house. Seats will have plaques with information about their buyers placed on them.
Kay Ross, HERO board member, said she is thankful for the community's support.
Kay Ross, of the Help Entertain and Restore Organization, receives a check for $300 from Terry Christensen, general manager of The Daily Freeman-Journal, to adopt the final seat at the Webster Theater. Also pictured are other HERO board members and employees of The Daily Freeman-Journal.
"The money raised was great, and has put us in sight of our goal, but we are even more excited by the community's enthusiasm for bringing this downtown icon back to life," Ross said.
Ross specifically thanked Jamie Seiser for suggesting the idea for the campaign.
While the seat fundraiser has ended, HERO is continuing to encourage donations.
"We are within $30,000 of our original fundraising goal, so there is still time to make a contribution," Deb Brown, executive director of the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce, said.
Further donations will go toward restoring the theater's marquee, the final large project that HERO is working on before the theater opens to the public on Sept. 20. According to HERO Board Member Jerry Kloberdanz, the project is a major undertaking. Old metalwork has been removed to expose the original marquee lines and openings for neon tubing. When workers opened up the marquee, Kloberdanz said they found it was heavily damaged. However, he said the group is committed to make it look spectacular again.
"The marquee restoration is a cornerstone of this project," Kloberdanz said. "It is important to us and to everyone in the community. It's the members of this community and their donations that are helping to make it the showstopper it should be."
Despite the damage, work on the marquee is proceeding at a pace to be switched on as part of RVTV festivities in Webster City on Sept. 8. Theater Manager Keri Holmes Rojas said buckets of popcorn will be for sale during the event.
After RVTV ends, HERO will be preparing for a "Red Carpet Affair" event on Sept. 19, the day before the theater is set to open to the public. On the following day, Sept. 20, HERO invites the community to see a movie at the newly redone Webster Theater. Jeff Pingel, HERO board president, said those who have waited to see if the Save the Webster Theater project would be successful before donating should consider contributing to HERO's efforts now.
"We want Iowa to know what Webster City is made of and having a fully restored marquee to show off statewide as part of RVTV will accomplish that," Pingel said.
According to Brown, more details about a new fundraising project called "Be A Star" will be announced next week. For more information, visit webstertheater.org.