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ALTON - It was a unique way to celebrate New Year's Eve, but many around the Alton region had a grand time Monday evening thanks to a unique party for charity in the downtown area.
A packed crowd marked New Year's Eve as part of the rebirth of the Alton Grand Theatre on Monday. The event benefitted Riverbender Community Center and the Crisis Food Pantry in Alton.
The decor boasted a truly historic setting within the old theater. The inside of the stripped-down historic theater was decorated with lights that when paired with the exposed brick and high ceilings made for a stunning environment. Guests were treated to hors-d'oeuvre and a champagne toast at midnight. A DJ and silent movies were also some highlights of the evening. The event's purpose was simply to bring the community together to see the theater after many years and raise money for charity.
A visit to the theater was a nostalgic experience for many who attended the event. Attendees mingled and shared their own stories of favorite memories experienced at the theater before it closed in 1977. The theater was brought to life once again on New Year's Eve, even if things looked different inside.
“We’re working on fixing it up. What we end up doing with the space is up to the community, it's for everyone.” said owner John Simmons.
A suggestions box was out at the party so the hundreds of attendees could offer their own ideas of what they hoped would become of the theater.
“We’re going to sift through every single idea submitted. We want the ideas and we’re curious to see what the people come up with,” said Simmons.
While a final decision on the future of the Grand Theatre hasn’t been made, those who attended the party hope to see more events be held at the theater. They hope more opportunities arise so they can continue to watch construction progress within the building.
John and Jayne Simmons bought the theater earlier in 2018 with hopes of restoring the building. They are both from Alton and passionate about the downtown area and the Alton community. And with such a successful and unique party they hosted on New Year's Eve there is surely much more exciting things to come for them and the iconic Alton Grand Theatre in 2019.