The letters for a quote by Fred Rogers, creator and host of the television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood," were hung on March 19 on the Buskirk-Chumley Theater marquee.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,'” it read.
This weekend, the theater will allow community members to share their own positive messages on its marquee.
The Buskirk-Chumley Theater is conducting an online auction to fundraise for the theater. Community members can bid to choose a positive message to display on the theater's marquee.
The auction begins Thursday at noon and ends Saturday at noon. The first message will appear on the marquee as early as April 13.
When the auction opens, there will be five slots available to bid on, and the bidding will start at $400. There will also be three marquee slots available to purchase up front, and $50 raffle tickets for a lottery to win a slot on the marquee. are also available. The marquee will change every two to three days, and photos will be shared online on the Buskirk-Chumley Facebook page, website and weekly email newsletter.
The goal of the fundraiser is to raise community spirits through the messages and help support the through the COVID-19, Executive Director Jonah Crismore said. The theater will also donate 20% of the proceeds to United Way's COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, Development Manager Lily Bonwich said .
“We want to address the immediate needs of the community while keeping the fundraiser timely,” Bonwich said.
After the box office closed on March 16, the downtown marquee was empty. Crismore decided the theater should put up an inspirational quote.
“I had seen other theaters put up inspirational quotes,” Crismore said. “We wanted something that might resonate with the community."
Like many other local businesses, the Buskirk-Chumley was forced to reschedule or cancel events. They canceled 15 shows and rescheduled 14. The theater also manages ticket sales for community events, and all eight of those events were canceled as well.
Crismore said he hopes the fundraiser will not only be beneficial for the theater, but will allow them to maintain a connection with the community.
“Our stage belongs to the community,” Crismore “But we can’t give that right now. The marquee was one of the things we could give.”