‘Community’ always playing at Aurora’s 12th St. Cinema

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Aurora will roll out the red carpet this weekend in celebration of a big screen milestone.
A whole generation of families and local youth have grown up with easy access to the local movie theater, thanks to the initial vision of volunteers followed by 20 years of community support. A former hardware store on the northwest corner of the square was converted into the 12th Street Cinema back in 1999, and since that time has welcomed an estimated 275,000 moviegoers through the doors.
Bringing movie screens back to life in small rural towns has become a popular trend in recent years, though Aurora was ahead of the curve 20 years ago. Amazingly, according to a detailed scrapbook kept by Betty Davidson, the project went from an initial meeting to opening night in about 13 months time. What’s not so amazing, for Aurora at least, is that the $310,000 purchase price and building renovation was almost completely paid for with local donations by the time Runaway Bride aired as the debut movie on Oct. 1, 1999.
Twenty years later, the 12th Street Cinema is still a gem, and a priceless value. For young families, especially, being able to go see a current movie for $3 or $4 per ticket (children/seniors and adults) is simply unheard of. Add to that value a fresh bag of popcorn and all the usual concessions that come at a fraction of the price you’ll pay in big-city theaters and you get a night out for the whole family at a reasonable sum.
That offers more than just a good value for a night’s entertainment. There is a sense of community featured on the big screen as well each time the 12th St. Cinema opens its doors. Volunteers are responsible for those low prices, as are the many donors who have helped fund a digital projection system, computerized concession system and new theater seats in recent years. It’s great to see families and organizations volunteer their time to serve up concessions, which is a treat in and of itself for those who can take the time. There is such a sense of connection when you help such a worthy cause in some way, even if you’re not remotely interested in seeing that night’s movie. It’s fair to say that some 50,000 hours of volunteerism has kept this small town success story up and running.
“It takes a village,” Hamilton Recreation Board President Scott Cerveny said, and in that sense this village, or community, has created and maintained a very special recreational resource for this and future generations.
In the words of the late film critics Siskel and Ebert, two thumbs way, way up to the 12th St. Cinema.
Kurt Johnson

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