The Park Theatre originally opened around 1940. The concrete block structure measures 50’ x 140’ and has a dome shaped roof. Four apartments are located above the lobby area and there are two small shops on either side of the box office which are rented out.
In the early years the Park would be host to capacity crowds each weekend, recalls Elaine Wilson, a frequent customer who later became an employee of the theatre. On Saturday nights a midnight show was added. In addition, there were matinees on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Tickets at the time were 10 cents for children, 25 cents for students, and 35 cents for adults. Before the main feature there would be a newsreel, short subjects and previews.
The Park also sponsored special events such as “Silver dollar Drawings,” talent shows and stage shows. In addition, Santa would visit for the four Saturday matinees leading up to Christmas, which always drew a large crowd.
The Park has been owned by Joe and Delores Wasche (who also own the Comet Theater in Perham) for the past 48 years. It still has its original marquee but it has been repainted twice during their ownership. It was ‘twinned’ 28 years ago and was closed up for 2.5 months during the process. The seating capacity is 188 in the smaller theatre and 240 in the larger one.
In the summer business is excellent. There are two shows nightly plus matinees 3 to 4 days a week (with half-priced admission). In the winter, business is slower, and the theatre is open six days a week with one showing. There are Christmas matinees held with free admission, sponsored by local businesses. Customers travel as far as 50 miles to attend a showing at the Park.
The Wasches also owned the nearby Rapids Drive-In Theatre, which has since closed.
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