The Civic Theatre has been a place of goodwill since day one. Tom Shorthouse remembers Halloween at the Civic during the Second World War.
“With the widespread rationing of foodstuffs including sugar, Halloween in Nelson was not celebrated with much candy-giving,” he writes. “The Civic Theatre hosted a matinee for us children following our October 31st night on the town. The admission fee consisted of whatever ‘Milk for Britain’ vouchers we had managed to collect. These were purchased in advance by parents as one of their contributions to the hometown war effort, and our shout when people opened their doors was not ‘Trick or treat!’ it was ‘Halloween shell-outs!’”
With the exception of United Way boxes, that Halloween focus has shifted, but goodwill is always there. There’s a chance to shell out for a good cause next week in a fundraising event for Grans to Grans — an event due entirely to the goodwill and generosity of one of our primo volunteers.
During the community challenge — where your goodwill raised more than $180,000 for your theatre’s digital conversion — we asked you to be a Civic ambassador: to help spread the word. The winner — and fabulous word-spreader — was Penny Riordan, a dedicated volunteer, community advocate, and movie enthusiast.
“I’ve been volunteering with the Civic since the original clean-up,” says Penny, who regularly sits at the membership table. “When the contest for the Civic ambassador was announced I saw the opportunity to use the one group that I’m involved with to raise funds for the other group that I’m passionate about.”
That group is Nelson Grans to Grans, an organization of women raising money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation to alleviate the devastating effects of AIDS on families in Africa through the foundation’s Grandmothers Campaign. Locally, Grans to Grans has raised $155,000 since 2006 through initiatives such as the annual African dinner and booths of baking, sewing, and knitting at Marketfest and Cottonwood Market. They are a group of 30 to 40 women full of goodwill for their counterparts across the ocean.
So what did Penny win? A private screening at the Civic — which she has decided will benefit Grans to Grans. We’ll show the 1951 film classic The African Queen on Monday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m. So bring your wallets and your goodwill to see Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn spin their magic on the big screen. Admission is by donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation
Tom describes the Civic’s WWII goodwill drives “to rescue whatever tin-foil, metal and rubber products, and cans of fat (!) the kids had managed to scrounge at home or from neighbours. Theatre manager Cecil Hughes treated us all to cartoons and a movie,” he says, for example: “a comedy starring someone hilarious, such as The Three Stooges.”
Things will get hilarious in a different way at the Civic this Thursday, October 31 at 9:30 p.m. when we celebrate Halloween by screening Rocky Horror Picture Show (Sing along! Prizes!). Cross-dress, do the Brad-and-Janet ensemble, haul out those fishnet stockings or go biker zombie — but leave the water guns at home, please! Goodwill is always welcome, of course. For the Civic, every film is a fundraiser as we work towards our three-screen goal, and Halloween is no exception.
We are a community of good causes. Actually, we’re a world of good causes. They all matter, and they all request our goodwill. The great thing is that goodwill is a limitless resource. No rationing required. Leave your tinfoil at home.
Just come and enjoy your community, and your community theatre, with a little goodwill in your pocket.
Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society. Large Popcorn, Extra Butter runs every two weeks. If you have a Civic Theatre memory to share please email anne(at)civictheatre.ca. To find out about movies and more: go to civictheatre.ca