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Broad Theater celebrates 100th anniversary

Souderton Independent logo Souderton Independent 8/10/2022 Bob Keeler, Souderton Independent, Pa.

Jul. 31—SOUDERTON — Vests, hats and bowties for men; headbands, strings of pearls and flapper dresses for women.

Those were some of the fashions as attendees at the July 30 Broad Theater 100th anniversary celebration re-created the sartorial look of the 1920s while listening to music from the era, watching silent movies, and gathering to share memories.

Ed Clemens lived nearby in the 1960s.

"We could walk to the movies," he said.

Deb Crown recalled coming to the theater as a teenager in the 1960s.

"I grew up in this area and so I came to the Broad Theater many, many times. It was a big deal on a Friday night," she said. "Everybody came to the Broad Theater."

Fast forward to 2004. Charlie and Deb Crown went to the Broad Theater to see a movie and were told when they bought their tickets that if not enough tickets were sold, the movie wouldn't be shown that night.

"They didn't sell the tickets and so they gave us a rain check," Deb Crown said. "We had the rain check tacked on our bulletin board, and then the theater closed."

Fast forward again to 2020 and Charlie Crown and Kyle Hoff reopened the theater.

When Charlie said he and Kyle were thinking about buying the theater, her initial response was, "Oh, you're crazy. Don't do it," Deb said.

"But he did it and now it's awesome," she said, "and the community is so invested in the theater, it's great, it's fun."

"They've created a beautiful place here," Clemens said.

Although both are red neon, there is a change in the restored sign.

"This is LED neon," Charlie Crown said.

When the Broad opened on July 21, 1922, the first movie was Cecil D'Mille's "Fools Paradise."

The possibility of reshowing that movie was considered, but dropped for two reasons, Charlie Crown said.

"It's not on digital," he said, "and it's also a horrible movie."

Other silent movies, however, were shown as part of the anniversary celebration.

A certificate commemorating the anniversary was presented by state Rep. Steve Malagari's, D-53rd Dist., office.

Attendees were invited to share their memories of the Broad either in writing or by video.

"This is so cool that you folks are all coming out supporting the theater," Charlie Crown said. He and Hoff want it to "be a place where the community can gather and have fun times and continue to make memories," he said.

(c)2022 Souderton Independent, Pa. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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