Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An Afternoon at the Rice

When we last visited Crowley, LA, about 30 months ago, Parkerson Avenue, the main street through this town of about 15,000, was impassable.

Today, the downtown businesses can proudly point to the boulevard that guides people into town. The island features historic-looking street lights and combined with the brick designs in the inter-sections and crosswalks presents a warm welcome.

One of the beneficiaries of this project's completion is the Rice Theater. The art deco style of this movie theater, built by the Southern Amusement Company in 1940, is apparent in the building's doors.

The archi-tectural style presents a striking picture as we entered the lobby. The green neon fits beautifully over the popcorn and candy counter.

Before its scheduled opening date of August of 1940, the theatre was damaged by a flood caused by a hurricane and had to be renovated. It did not open its doors until January, 1941.

I was not able to learn anything about the theater for the period from its opening to 1986, when the building was sold to the City of Crowley. This was when the Rice City Civic Center Project was undertaken by a group of concerned citizens and the City of Crowley Adminis-tration.

To us, this investment of time and money by the community reflects the commitment of the city to creating another community gathering place and an attraction to visitors.

During our brief tour of the theater, our guide, Bonnie Wines, mentioned that "the seats in the center rock!" We thought that she was quite current in her use of the language of the day. But she meant that the seats literally rock, whereas those along the sides are stationary.

"We have a small problem with the rocking. Some of the kids insist on rocking throughout the perfor-mance, and some of the chairs squeak as they rock. So, it does create a distraction if several are rocking in the squeaky chair.

The photo (right) looks toward the rear of the theater and the balcony.As we headed up to the balcony, I took this photo because of the attention to stylistic detail that it showed.

This last group of photos show the balcony seats and the view from the balcony.

Bonnie mentioned that there are about 550 seats in the theater. In addition to offering a monthly "Nite at the Rice," which features local performers and musicians, the Rice is the site for graduation ceremonies and other community ceremonies.

Above the stage is some artwork that shows some rice (center of the photo) and some masks signifying the theater's work.

It's very gratifying to see a community behind the restoration of a historic gem that all can feel part of.

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