The theater will be under the management of Bay Center residents Andi Harden and her mother, Anne Steele.
During her farewell remarks, Watson proudly announced that fundraising for the theater’s new projector is now just $6,000 shy of its $90,000 goal. She said she received word last week about the latest grant of $10,000 from the Alliance for a Better Community (ABC), a local agency. The effort to buy a new projector began about two years ago when it was learned that movie distributors would no longer distribute the films for which the theater is set up.
“This is about community,” Watson said about keeping the theater up and running. She listed a number of activities the theater has supported in one way or another: Business Week, lock-ins, Sunday Afternoon Live, fundraisers for Helping Hands and other local organizations, and of course, movies.
She recalled when “Shrek” was showing; one young audience member asked her, “Could you rewind it just a little bit?” Watson took the youngster up to the projection room to show him the huge spools holding the movie. “This really isn’t so easy to rewind,” she said she told him, noting his visit to see the projector wouldn’t have happened in a larger theater.
Watson also said she wanted to set the record straight about who worked at the theater. “Sure, it was hard work, and sure, there was a lot to do. But I didn’t do it all,” she said, pulling her husband Frank closer. “This man kept the projection room running, and I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Raymond Mayor Bob Jungar credited Watson with bringing the city-owned theater from the verge of closing to, now, a “break-even” point.
Jewel Hardy, representing ABC, presented the Watsons a gift – an electric fan decorated with a variety of bling signifying that “ABC is your biggest fan.” Hardy said the Watsons would especially appreciate the gift in their new home in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
The Watsons packed up two trailers and moved on Saturday, just hours after their farewell.
The party got started with balloons, refreshments and a lot of visiting among those attending. Watson began the “official” part of the event with a special performance of a song she wrote in honor of her father who passed away of cancer.
Sung by Jason Sansom of the band “Anistize”, the song is also appropriate for the Watsons’ departure: