Michaels: Showing appreciation for community treasures keeps them alive

" Small and striking buildings in the shadows of new skyscrapers are being shutdown in the name of progress..."

Nothing has captured the attention of Kelowna Capital News readers more than this week’s story about the end of the Paramount Theatre.

With thousands of web hits and hundreds of comments logged since we reported the story, it’s become clear that Kelowna residents past and present have a great deal of affection for the old movie house.

I’m certainly a fan of it and others of its kind. There’s something lovely about those velvety, low slung seats, even if I do feel a bit discombobulated at the end of a two-hour flick.

There’s also something to be said for the musty scent in those theatres. It harkens back to the days when actual film reels rolled. Days when popcorn could be enjoyed guilt free and when the only way to meet the larger-than-life characters of film was on the silver screen.

Old theatres are the keepers of both our personal and pop culture history, which is likely why citizens rally when news that they’re being retired is released.

Across Canada, old theatres are meeting a similar fate to the Paramount. Small and striking buildings in the shadows of new skyscrapers are being shutdown in the name of progress.

Some are meeting their end with the crash of a wrecking ball.

When you’re lucky, like we in Kelowna seem to be right now, developers re-invent the buildings while trying to keep the character intact.

Behind the Paramount marquee Kelowna will likely get a new place to have dinner and shop.

It’s not quite as good as a theatre, but as anyone who went there knows, it lately wasn’t exactly a hub of activity.

If it was, chances are the Landmark people would have fought to keep the lease.

I certainly didn’t go to the Paramount nearly enough in recent years, choosing instead to go to a big-box style theatre where your worries can be blown away by the thunderous noise of the sound effects.

But when those theatres are one day torn down, I won’t be shedding any tears.

I won’t remember any details about the seats, or the way they smelled or who I was with when I saw whatever noisy movie I saw.

Lamenting the loss of a big-box theatre would be like crying over a closing of a Walmart.

So, maybe this can be a reminder to all of us who will miss the old theatre: If you love something, even an inanimate object like a theatre, don’t assume it will be there forever.

If it’s worth lamenting, it might be worth visiting in person and, in this case, there’s no time like the present.

Kathy Michaels is a Kelowna Capital News reporter.


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