A fund-raising drive to help keep the Roxy Theater in Eatonville open is nearing the end, and organizers are optimistic.
Karen Woodcock, part of a community group called Save the Roxy, said last week that the drive has produced $30,000 in donations to help the theater’s owners buy digital movie projection equipment. Without the new system, movie distributors would stop sending films to the Roxy and the theater would close, according to the owners.
“We would like to do one last push,” Woodcock said. She said the support so far has been “awesome.But if we could get another $5,000, that would put (the Roxy) in a great place to get started.”
Some of the donations have come from people such as Ladd Smith, who grew up in Eatonville and worked at his grandmother’s restaurant when it was located next to the theater. He remembers “selling candy to moviegoers” and later working at the theater, his daughter, Laura Smith, wrote in a letter to Woodcock, one of several letters that have been sent by Roxy supporters.
“The Roxy figured prominently in his youth,” Smith’s daughter said, so he made a donation in exchange for a plaque with his name to be mounted on the back of one of the theater seats.
Seat plaques are one of the chief ways that Save the Roxy has been raising money.
When the drive started last fall, the goal was $70,000 for the conversion to digital projection. Since then, theater owners Mike Wood and Dean Wadell have indicated that if $30,000 to $35,000 can be raised, they can cover the rest of the expense, Woodcock said.
If the effort falls short, Wood and Wadell have said they would return large individual contributions and give other fund-raised money to local charities.
The Roxy, the only movie theater in Eatonville, opened in 1942. It’s had different owners over the years.