Fairy Tale of Community Involvement "Towers" over
the Friendly City of Bend
the high desert of Oregon rests a city of 52,000
The Tower showing in all of its splendor at
Bend. The Deschutes River meanders through the town, and right in
the middle is the Old Mill District, a new and exciting development
aimed at keeping some of the area's history alive, as well as offering
great shopping and unique eating establishments for all ages.
part of this district in the very heart of Bend, almost on the banks
of the Deschutes, is the Tower Theater. Like me, it was born in
1940, and throughout the years this old theater has gone through
one point, it closed completely, to be a reminder of happier days.
But in Bend, a group of folks had a vision. They wanted to give
the old theater a new life. Of course, that would take money, lots
of it. With diligence and fortitude, the people of Bend eventually
raised more than $4 million, finding backing from many businesses
and the Regal Theater chain.
Tower Theater Marquee showing Eva Marie
Saint (on right)
appearing the night before Karolyn appeared.
the fairy-tale story has a wonderful ending that really is a new
beginning. The theater is alive again, with the best possible equipment.
It has the capability to be a venue for a wide range of cultural
activities, from live theater and dancing to movies and rock shows.
This creation has been a wonderful gift to the people who live in
view of the newly refurbished state-of-the-art Tower Theater.
I wandered through all levels of this stately theater and gazed
at paintings on the walls and artistic tiles used as cornices, I
could see that many artists had collaborated to give a treasure
back to the community that worked so hard to preserve it. The design
is art deco,
and the colors are various shades of terra cotta, in burgundy and
other muted colors. The orchestra pit can be used for seating as
well as music, and the keys of a new Steinway stand ready to produce
a new century of musical notes.
was fortunate to be invited to participate in one of the events
of the grand reopening of the Tower Theater on February 3, 2004.
What film did the organizers choose to demonstrate the theater's
high-tech capabilities? Of course, it was "It's a Wonderful
Life," a movie brimming with community involvement and
showcasing how each person can make a difference.
Tower exemplifies a vision that needed the active participation
of its community, and everyone came through. What a thrill to see
how this project culminated.
enjoyed so much meeting and watching the film with the many "It's
a Wonderful Life" friends and fans of Bend. Of the full
house of 480 people who attended that night, probably half had never
seen the film on the big screen. What a treat we had, viewing the
film in pristine clarity and bigger than life.
view from the Old Mill district overlooking the Dechutes River.
course, I ordered snow. It was not in the forecast, but that day
Bend got 6 inches of soft powder that certainly helped with the
ambience of the evening.
I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Tower Theater
and the folks in Bend, Oregon. Perhaps you can experience the same
kind of magic in your town, in towns near to you or even on a visit
of your own to Bend itself.