Keeping it ‘reel’

Aaron Rider is the new manager of the Webster Theater

Aaron Rider, the new manager of the Webster Theater, stands on the steps inside the theater near a poster featuring the iconic marquee.

There’s a new face at the Webster Theater. The HERO Board recently hired Aaron Rider, 41, of Webster City as the new manager of the facility.

Rider is an Iowa native. He grew up in Waterloo and spent a great deal of time on his uncle’s farm near Osage. That’s where he determined that he definitely wanted to live in a small community.

“I really like small town life,” he said. “That’s stuck with me all these years.”

He lived in Florida for a few years, and he and his wife lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a time. They moved back to Iowa when his wife, Christina, went to graduate school in Des Moines. They lived in Washington State for a few years, moving back to Iowa and Webster City in 2013.

“We were glad to get back to small-town life,” he said.

Rider comes from a background of graphic design and photography. and has operated his own graphic design business for several years. He took over the reins at the Webster Theater in mid-February.

When the family visited Webster City as they planned their move, Rider said they were excited to see there was a movie theater.

“A month later, we moved and the theater had closed,” he said, but happily watched as the effort to reopen the theater took hold in the community.

“I love this theater,” he said. “We saw it being reopened and we attended “Made in Iowa” and now to see to what it has become.”

Rider said he had an opportunity to meet the late Art Downard, the former longtime owner of the Webster Theater. The Rider family lived in one of Downard’s houses.

“It was pretty fun to hear the history of our house and the theater,” he said.

Rider has a part-time staff of high school and college students who work the ticket and concession counters.

“They’re a great group of kids and really hard workers,” he said. “They’re all very willing to learn.”

The theater had one of it’s biggest weeks ever with the showing of the film “I Can Only Imagine.”

Rider said more than 900 people attended the showings.

“We were just blown away,” he said. “That’s got to be one of the top three or four for attendance.”

In his spare time, Rider enjoys photography and is the president of the Fort Dodge Camera Club. He’s also involved in his church and the Riders are also members of the St. Thomas Ball Committee.


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