Not only do individuals make a difference in their communities, but whole groups of people make a difference.
The community is Aberdeen, and the group of people are former movie-goers who became theatre owners. They made a positive influence on Aberdeen at the same time.
Aberdeen is the picturesque county seat of Monroe County, on the banks of the Tombigbee River in northeast Mississippi. Sort of an anomaly of modern times, Aberdeen still has a thriving downtown. And sort of the crown of downtown is the old Elkin Theatre.
They still show movies on Friday and Saturday nights every week, plus a lot more. But none of it would be happening except for an unusual move by some of the people who live there.
When the old theatre, which had transcended through several movie chain owners by that time, finally had to close its doors in 1985, the building was put up for sale.
Sixty-five families here in town said ‘we're afraid what's going to happen to that building' so they bought it," said Aberdeen Elkin Theatre Association President Bob Seymour. "And we've been running it ever since."
The theatre association is non-profit, and Seymour says the families purchased the building for several reasons.
One reason is the architecture. It was built in the 1930's and the lobby and theatre still retains the look of the era.
"It looks a lot like 1937," said Seymour.
But the Elkin is not a museum. It has recently installed the latest digital theatre projection system, capable of playing 3D movies as well as everything else.
They only run movies on Friday and Saturday nights, but the rest of the time the Elkin isn't idle.
"We do a lot more things than just show movies," added Seymour. "If you saw the sign on the door, there's a fashion show here celebrating the 175th anniversary of the community. We have a play normally each year during the pilgrimage written by a local lady. And we've had congressional debates here and various other community meetings."
"We see the Elkin all the time," said Aberdeen florist Meg Evans. "We've gotten to where we don't see it anymore because it's something we take for granted. But then someone from out of town comes in and starts to talk about how great the theatre is and how interesting it is and how historic and precious it is. It gives us the chance to see it again for the first time through their eyes."
And for over 25 years now, thanks to the foresight of 65 families in Aberdeen who saw the need for it, the Elkin Theater has made a difference by improving the quality of life in the town simply because it's there.
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