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Community Comes Together To Save Movie Theater
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The Castle Theatre opened in 1935, and is the only theater in Delaware County.

In 2009 a group of concerned citizens received word that their local movie theater was soon closing.  After many meetings, research was done in other community run theaters, a Board was formed, the non-profit status was established, theater assets were purchased, teams of volunteers were organized, movie contracts were signed, operating plans were developed, two part-time managers were hired to run the day-to-day operations, a website was created and the funds were raised to cover the initial start up costs.

The Board consists of nine local citizens and two area high school students.  There are a handful of committee members who also have assisted the Board in other projects.

Since taking over ownership from Fridley Theatres of Des Moines in early September 2009,  Friends of Castle Theatre members and other individuals have spent hundreds of hours working on the Castle Theatre.  The project included a much needed and thorough cleaning of the lobby, concession area and auditorium.  Necessary repairs and improvements continue to be made throughout the building. 
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The lobby and concession area received a new facelift featuring new paint and wallpaper.  During this time, the theatre’s projection equipment was also refurbished, repaired and upgraded.  An ongoing restoration of the familiar downtown Manchester icon – the Castle Theatre’s marquee – included the replacement of the neon sign, a new roof and a fresh paint job.  The outdoor poster boxes were also repaired.

The theatre reopened October 23, 2009 with a fresh new look and a first-run movie showing every night at 7 p.m.

Volunteers continue to staff the theater’s the theater’s ticket booth, concessions and projector.

Having a viable movie theater is important to the overall health of Manchester and Delaware County in giving it’s citizens a choice of entertainment for all ages.

Grand Re-Opening November 13-15, 2009
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In appreciation of the support of the community and many volunteers, the Friends of Castle Theatre are planning a Grand Re-Opening celebration this weekend, Nov. 13, 14 and 15th at the newly reopened Castle Theatre in downtown Manchester and everyone is invited to attend!

The special celebration will be filled with many surprises for patrons and will coincide with the showing of the new Warner Brothers Pictures film “Where The Wild Things Are.” The movie, an adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's story, where Max, a disobedient little boy sent to bed without his supper, creates his own world--a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler, is rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language.

“This film – which is perfect for the whole family to enjoy – is the type of films we’ll be striving to bring into the Castle Theatre on a regular basis,” says Friends President Al Remling.  The Friends of Castle Theatre, a new non-profit organization, recently took over control of Delaware County’s only movie theatre and after much cleaning and restoration, reopened the facility last month.

The Castle Theatre’s three-day Grand Re-Opening Celebration will include a variety of special surprises – including free giveaways and other promotional items for those attending the movie throughout the weekend. Be sure to plan to attend this ‘red-carpet’ event and come early to the 7 p.m. shows. Everyone purchasing a ticket to the show will be eligible to win a door prize! 

On Friday, Nov. 13, - Friday the 13th - the Friends DARE YOU to visit the Castle Theatre! Instead of bad luck, expect good fortune as your chance of winning a free prize will increase. Show times at the Castle Theatre in Manchester are 7 p.m. each night with free popcorn every Wednesday evening.

Curious about upcoming movies at the Castle Theatre?  New Castle Theatre Manager Kelly Stogdill says there are several ways you can find out information about the theatre and upcoming movies. Patrons can check their local newspapers and radio stations, call the “What’s Showing” phone line at 563-927-5726, visit the theatre’s new website at www.castletheatre.org and – of course – check the Castle’s newly restored marquee in downtown Manchester.

Operated by the generous talents of local volunteers, the Friends of Castle Theatre continue to welcome volunteers willing to work the theatre’s concession stand or ticket booth. Please contact Friends Secretary Deb Hamblin at 563-927-2490 if you are interested in helping with this community project or if you would like to become a member of the Friends organization.

Free Popcorn Night Returns to Castle Theatre
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Posted 28 October 2009
Popcorn lovers can rejoice! Free Popcorn Night has returned to the Castle Theatre in Manchester. Beginning tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 28, Wednesdays will be considered "free popcorn night" at the local movie theatre.
 
Grab your friends and family and make plans to see the animated hit “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” now showing at the Castle Theatre. 
 
Rated PG, promoters say “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” is the most delicious event since macaroni met cheese! It’s the perfect movie for the whole family to enjoy!
 
The soon-to-be children’s classic will be shown at the Manchester theatre through Thursday, Oct. 29. A 7 p.m. show is scheduled for each night. 
 
The Castle Theatre, now operated by a local non-profit group Friends of Castle Theatre, reopened its doors to the public last Friday, Oct. 23, after several weeks of intensive cleaning and restoration.

GREAT Night to Remember for the Castle Theatre
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Posted 26 October 2009
"Friday, October 23, 2009, will be a GREAT night to remember for the Castle Theatre in Manchester! 
 
The doors of the Castle opened early because people were arriving early.  There was a waiting line out on the sidewalk.  People were crowding in to buy their ticket to the show.  More people were buying lots of popcorn and pop.  The movie starting time had to be delayed in order for all the people to find a seat. 
 
We had to turn people away because all of the seats had been SOLD.  The Theatre was full and sold out.  (Now I realize that I didn't get to see the movie...and I bought a ticket!)
 
Here's hoping that we have many more nights like this.
 
 Many, many thanks to you for all that you have done to make this night happen.
 
I'll see you at the Castle!"
 
Al Remling
President
Friends of Castle Theatre

Movies Return to the Big Screen
in Delaware County!
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Posted 23 October 2009
The wait is over! The newly refurbished Castle Theatre in Manchester reopens its doors to the public Friday, Oct. 23, with a 7 p.m. showing of the animated hit “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.” Rated PG, promoters say “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” is the most delicious event since macaroni met cheese! It’s the perfect movie for the whole family to enjoy! The soon-to-be children’s classic will continue to be shown at the Manchester theatre through Thursday, Oct. 29, with a 7 p.m. show scheduled for each night.

Members of the Friends of Castle Theatre and the many volunteers who have donated hundreds of hours into the restoration of the 74-year-old movie theatre have anxiously awaited the theatre’s reopening as the culmination of all of their hard work.

“It was a labor of love,” says Deb Hamblin, volunteer coordinator and Secretary of the Friends organization. “We’re very excited and ready to reopen the theatre. We hope everyone will come out to the movies and see all of the work that has been done.”

What will visitors notice when they return to the Castle Theatre?  A fresh new look to the lobby, concession area and auditorium.  Much needed cleaning, repairs and improvements have been made throughout the theatre.  And since being temporarily closed, the theatre’s projection equipment has been refurbished, repaired and upgraded – an action which dramatically improved the picture and sound.  Work has been done to restore the Castle Theatre’s historic marquee’s neon lights and movie-goers will definitely notice the new paint job and addition of new lettering on the sign.
 
New Castle Theatre Manager Kelly Stogdill says there are several ways which people can find out information about the theatre and upcoming movies. Patrons can check their local newspapers and radio stations, call the “What’s Showing” phone line at 563-927-5726, and – of course – check the Castle’s marquee in downtown Manchester.  In addition, the Castle Theatre now has a website where the public can see the latest information about movies, learn about volunteer opportunities, discover details regarding special promotions – like the upcoming free kids holiday movies – and gift certificates, view photos of the recent restoration project and much more. The website can be accessed by going to www.castletheatre.org .

A Grand Re-Opening weekend event has been set for Friday, Nov. 13, and Saturday, Nov. 14.   A thank-you reception for the volunteers, contractors, Friends board and committee members, Friends Members and everyone who did so much to make reopening the Castle Theatre possible will also be held in the next few weeks. And, in the planning stages, are some surprises for movie-goers as well. Watch for more details regarding this celebration in the next few weeks.

The Friends of Castle Theatre, a local non-profit group that owns and operates the local movie theatre, continue to work towards making improvements to the facility so that movie-goers can enjoy shows well into the future. To help with upcoming projects or to volunteer to work the concession or ticket booth during shows, contact The Friends by calling Deb Hamblin at 563-927-2490, e-mailing the theatre at Castletheatre@yahoo.com or sending contributions or correspondence to The Castle Theatre, P. O. Box 127, Manchester, IA 52057.

Castle Theatre Opens Friday
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Posted 21 October 2009
Nagle Sign, Inc. works on installing new neon sign on historic Castle Theatre marquee in downtown Manchester today, Wednesday, Oct. 21.
 
The restoration of the marquee, which also included a fresh paint job, structural repairs and a new roof, is just a part of the entire rejuvenation project currently underway at the local movie theatre.
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The Friends of the Castle Theatre, since obtaining ownership Sept. 1, have been busy cleaning, repairing and remodeling the lobby, concession area and auditorium.
 
As the marquee says, the theatre is expected to reopen this Friday night, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. with the animated feature "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs."

Restoration Work in Full Swing at Manchester’s Castle Theatre
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Posted 16 October 2009
Many local volunteers have been busy cleaning and repairing Manchester’s Castle Theatre.  Closed to the public since Sept. 1, members of the theatre’s new management team – The Friends of Castle Theatre – and others interested in preserving the county’s only movie theatre, have been hard at work for over a month preparing for the Castle’s upcoming Grand Re-Opening celebration. The event hopes to feature the debut of a newly restored and lighted marquee and lobby/concession area as well as the return of first–run movies on the large screen.

The Friends of Castle Theatre, a relatively new non-profit group, raised community awareness about the theatre when Fridley Theatres announced plans to close the local landmark.  After months of planning, fundraising, mountains of paperwork and a lot of hard work, the organization purchased the 74-year-old movie theatre and temporarily closed its doors Sept. 1 for repairs and renovations.

The intensive restoration project, which has included hundreds of volunteer hours and generous donations of time, product and services from local individuals and businesses, has kept Friends members and area residents who offered to help out very busy during the past few weeks.  Over 100 volunteers to date have assisted in the project.
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The project included a much needed and thorough cleaning of lobby, concession area and auditorium.  Necessary repairs and improvements continue to be made throughout the building.  The lobby and concession area have already received a new facelift featuring new paint and wallpaper.  During this time, the theatre’s projection equipment has also been refurbished, repaired and upgraded.  An ongoing restoration of the familiar downtown Manchester icon – the Castle Theatre’s marquee – will include the replacement of the neon sign (as weather permits), a new roof and a fresh paint job.  Visitors to the theatre should also be watching for the installation of two new show poster boxes on the exterior of the theatre, framing the entrance.

The Friends of Castle Theatre are looking forward to the day when the doors to the local theatre re-open and movies are once again playing for the public on the big screen.  Plans for a Grand Re-opening celebration event, to be held in November, are currently underway.

“We want to express sincere thanks and appreciation to all the board, volunteers, workers, Friends members, and everyone who is helping with the theatre project,” says Friends President Al Remling. “The interest of people throughout our community and area is wonderful.  Expressions of support for the success of the Castle continue to come from miles around.  The willingness of people to help is overwhelming.”

Although excitement is high over the work that has been done, The Friends of Castle Theatre, have outlined many additional projects that will also need to be addressed in the near future. The group – appreciative of the support it has received to date - continues to welcome financial donations to help with the ongoing restoration and preservation projects.  New members are also encouraged to join at any time.  Donations for the organization or memberships may be sent to The Castle Theatre, P. O. Box 127, Manchester, IA 52057.

“We hope for continued support after we open,” adds Remling.  “We will continue to need volunteers, donations, and - most importantly - people coming to the movies.”

Volunteers interested in working in the concession stand or taking tickets are still being sought.  If interested in helping, please contact Friends Secretary Deb Hamblin at 563-927-2490 and keep watching for more information in the next few weeks regarding the theatre’s grand reopening celebration.

(Photos courtesy of Friends of Castle Theatre)

Castle Theatre Hires New Manager
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Posted 13 October 2009
Kelly Stogdill of Manchester has been hired as the new manager for Delaware County’s only movie theatre – the Castle Theatre in Manchester. 

The Friends of Castle Theatre, a local non-profit community group interested in the preservation and continuation of the 74-year-old movie theatre, officially took over ownership of the local entertainment center Sept. 1 from Fridley Theatres.  Members of The Friends organization formally welcomed Stogdill to the manager position last week.

Stogdill comes to the position with ample experience – she started working part-time at the Castle Theatre in 2002 and spent six years as assistant manager with Fridley management.  She was promoted to co-manager of the theatre in 2007.

“I have always been intrigued by film and the movie business,” says Stogdill.  “I think it was a great thing the Friends of the Castle Theatre did – they stepped up to keep the theatre alive in Manchester for our kids and for our adults. Manchester really needs a theatre.”
Stogdill works with troubled teens as the day manager at Four Oaks in Monticello. She is the mother of four children – Alyssa, 14; Austin, 12; Ashley, 10; and Alec, 7.   As Manager, she will work approximately 30 hours per week - primarily in the evenings and on weekends - overseeing the general business operation and coordinating the volunteer workforce.  She will be helped by part-time paid staff, members of the Friends’ Board of Directors and other key volunteers.  Duties at the theatre will include putting together and breaking down each movie, operating and monitoring the projector, coordinating volunteer schedules, orchestrating the cleaning of the auditorium after every show and conducting routine theatre business.
 
“I think it will be very exciting and fun to work with all of the volunteers.  They have done such a terrific job in getting the theatre back into shape and I know they will continue to be great help,” adds Stogdill.  “It’s important to have the support of the community and getting people involved – either helping with the daily operation or attending movies each week.  That’s what we’re here for!”  

As part of the theatre’s reorganization, the Castle Theatre has been closed for the past few weeks for cleaning, repairs and restoration of the lobby, marquee, concession area and auditorium. Watch for details concerning the celebration now being planned for the Castle’s Theatre’s upcoming grand re-opening.

Manchester’s Castle Theatre Under New Management
Restoration Begins Sept. 1
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Posted 31 August 2009
Delaware County’s only movie theatre – Castle Theatre in Manchester – is now under new management. A newly created non-profit community group, Friends of Castle Theatre, has secured ownership and officially took over formal operation of the movie theatre Sept. 1, 2009 from Fridley Theatres.

As part of the reorganization, the Castle Theatre will be temporarily closed beginning Sept. 1 for necessary cleaning, repairs and restoration of the lobby, concession area and auditorium. During this time the theatre’s projection equipment will also be repaired and upgraded. The Friends of Castle Theatre plan to reopen the theatre to the public with a special restart and grand re-opening celebration slated for October.

Doug Hawker, Vice President of the Friends organization is excited about the changes but says there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. “We have most of the paperwork in place for the transition and we are excited for the Castle Theatre to begin a new chapter. During the month of September we will be undertaking many projects to improve the theatre for movie goers.  Inside the group of volunteers will be repainting and updating the concession area and deep cleaning the auditorium.  Future projects we hope to undertake include restoration of the marquee and neon sign and installation of new show boxes on the exterior of the building.”

Hawker added, “We have been told by many theatre owners and experts in the industry in Iowa that the Castle Theatre, for its age, is in remarkable condition and we intend to keep it that way.”  The 253-seat theatre started showing movies to area residents in 1935 and next year will note it 75th anniversary.
Also on the group’s agenda during its temporary closure in September are improvements to the theatre’s projection and perhaps the sound equipment.  Additional financial donations will be necessary to accomplish these goals.

Do you have great memories of time spent at the theatre? Want to be a part of the restoration? Do you wish to be among the first to see improvements as they’re completed? Volunteer crews continue to be sought to assist with the cleaning and updating of many areas. Volunteers will be scheduled on an individual or group basis at various times this month. To lend a hand in this community project contact Friends Board Members Sue McCormac at 563-927-3125, Pat Becker at 563-927-6603 or Friends Secretary Deb Hamblin at 563-927-2490.

The Friends of Castle Theatre welcome financial donations to help with the restoration project and encourage new members to join.  Watch for more information in the next few weeks regarding the theatre’s grand reopening celebration.

“Friends of Castle Theatre” Seek Volunteers
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Posted 24 August 2009
The Friends of Castle Theatre are looking for volunteers willing to donate their time and services to keep the local theatre open to the public.

The newly created non-profit organization will take over operations at Manchester’s only movie theatre Sept. 1, 2009.  “We need volunteers to help with a variety of projects,” says Friends President Al Remling.

The Castle Theatre will be closed for a few weeks in September to help volunteers clean and prepare the theatre for their grand re-opening.  Volunteer crews are being sought to assist with the cleaning and updating of the concession stand, lobby, restrooms and auditorium.  Be among the first residents to ‘sneak-a-peek’ at the newly restored Castle Theatre in progress.  Volunteers will be scheduled on an individual or group basis. To volunteer contact Friends Board Members Sue McCormac at 563-927-3125, Pat Becker at 563-927-6603 or Friends Secretary Deb Hamblin at 563-927-2490.

In addition to cleaning projects, volunteers will be sought to help sell tickets and concessions this fall.  Volunteers can sign-up to work on a regular or as-needed basis and are encouraged to work shifts with friends, family or co-workers as a fun activity…and then enjoy the show together that evening. The group hopes to develop a database of available volunteers with shifts rotating on a monthly basis.

 “We are also interested in individuals or businesses wishing to donate their time and talents to the project,” adds Remling. The Friends of Castle Theatre welcome individuals with skills in carpentry work, electrical, plumbing, painting, clerical, bookkeeping, cleaning and more to join forces with them to help repair and sustain theatre operations.

The Friends of Castle Theatre are in the middle of a fundraising campaign to cover initial start-up costs, inventory and marketing expenses, and repairs to the marquee and poster boxes. The group is also raising funds for equipment needs – including new projection and sound equipment – as well as new auditorium seats.

The Friends of Castle Theatre welcome new members and currently encourage anyone interested to become involved with the project.  The group is also accepting financial donations as well. For more information on how you can become involved or volunteer, please contact Volunteer Coordinators Pat Becker at 563-927-6603, Sue McCormac at 563-927-3125, or Deb Hamblin at 563-927-2490.

“Friends” Group Secures Ownership of Castle Theatre
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Posted 10 August 2009
The Friends of Castle Theatre, a newly created non-profit community organization, has secured ownership of the theatre equipment and will take over operation of Manchester’s only movie theatre, the Castle Theatre, effective Sept. 1, 2009.
Jack Klaus, Executive Director of the Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce, made the announcement last week as the deal with Fridley Theatres became official. Klaus says the organization has been meeting for nearly a year since Brian Fridley, president of Fridley Theatres, shared the news that he intended to close or sell the local movie theatre as part of his restructuring plan to reduce the number of single screen theatres owned by his company.

Fridley approached the Chamber with his plans but also with an idea – to turn the movie theatre over to a local community group so that it could continue to operate. Without prospects of a new owner interested in buying the business, Fridley shared that several non-profit community-based organizations in cities such as Vinton, Charles City, Sumner and Grundy Center have been quite successful in operating movie theatres. Fridley told the Manchester Chamber that if a community non-profit group wished to take over operations at the Castle Theatre, he would be interested in donating the existing theatre equipment to the project.

Klaus followed up on the concept, first contacting several of the non-profit groups currently running movie theatres in Iowa. “After making some contacts and asking a lot of questions, it seemed to be a viable idea for these groups to work together and keep their theatres open,” Klaus says. The Chamber then worked to form a group of interested people, which, after many meetings, eventually became the Friends of Castle Theatre.
“The people who have stepped up and shown commitment to keeping a theatre in Manchester have been wonderful to work with,” says Klaus.

Last March the Friends held an informational and fundraising event at Castle Theatre – featuring a special showing of the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – and shared the concept of a volunteer based theatre to gage local interest. With positive support at the event in volunteers and funds, the Friends moved forward with plans to take over operations of the theatre in Manchester.

Klaus says non-profit groups, like the Friends of Castle Theatre, have three advantages to successfully running single screen theatres. Local groups can utilize volunteer labor to operate ticket and concession sales, reducing the cost of employees and keeping expenses low. Communities are more likely to support a local non-profit partnership instead of businesses whose owners reside outside of the community. And, most importantly, non-profit groups can qualify for grants and welcome tax deductible donations to help with repairs and upgrades.
“To be successful, community-owned theatres need two kinds of support from the community,” says Klaus. “Volunteers are needed to help operate the theatre and movie goers are needed to make the theatre successful.”

The Friends of Castle Theatre welcome new members, volunteers and your financial support.

For more information on how to become involved or to volunteer to help keep the Castle Theatre open, please contact Friends of Castle Theatre President Al Remling at 563-927-1425.




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112 E. Main
Manchester, Iowa

563-927-5726

Showtime 7:00 PM Daily

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