Fundraising for Midwest Marquee planned at Gering’s Christmas in the Plaza.

The recent holiday blizzard took a further toll on the historic Midwest Theater’s 73-year-old marquee, which had suffered damage earlier this year from a small electrical fire and hailstorms. The blizzard’s high winds caused metal fatigue and weld failure on the letter ‘S’ on the west side of the marquee, which is bent forward over the sidewalk. Ferguson Signs mitigated this safety hazard by pushing the letter back against the overhang roof.

Beginning with the electrical fire in March, and continuing with the severe hailstorms in August, executive director Billy Estes and members of the Friends of the Midwest Theater board of directors have been carefully evaluating options for repairing or replacing elements of the marquee. Because the Midwest Theater is on the National Register of Historic places, any work on the marquee must be consistent with the historic character of the building. Discussions are ongoing with possible contractors on options and pricing. No firm dollar amounts or repair completion dates are yet available, but the repairs are likely to take many months after a plan is in place, and the expense will be substantial.

In order to build a base of donations that can not only help pay for repairs but serve as matching funds for grant applications, the Midwest Theater is accepting donations for its marquee repair fund.

Gering’s “Christmas in the Plaza” event Dec. 7 will feature a range of fun family activities and include a “Wreck It to Raise It” fundraiser that will benefit the Midwest Theater marquee repair fund.

The Midwest Theater’s Development Director Katie Bradshaw builds gingerbread structures for a hobby, and she built a scale replica of the Midwest Theater out of gingerbread. This “gingerbread Midwest Theater” will demolished at approximately 6:45 p.m., and the method of destruction will be determined by the total amount of donation “votes” to the marquee fund that are earmarked for each method: eaten by a snowblower, dropped from a bucket truck, sliced by a chainsaw, or torched with a blowtorch. A “save the gingerbread” option will also be available. The gingerbread would be put on display at the Midwest Theater through the holiday season before being destroyed.

“With the year that we’ve had and the multiple forms of damage to the theater’s marquee, this gingerbread destruction event will feel pretty cathartic,” Bradshaw said. “Gingerbread structures are intended to be temporary and I hope this fundraiser can help with a permanent fix to the actual Midwest Theater marquee.”

To make a donation and cast your vote, you can vote onsite from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. the night of the event with cash or check to the Midwest Theater. The public can vote ahead of time by calling 308-632-4311 to pay with a credit card, stopping by 1707 Broadway to pay with cash, check, or credit card, and making an online donation at midwesttheater.com. Select “Midwest Marquee Fund” from the drop-down menu, create an account to check out, and please email Katie@MidwestTheater.com to specify your vote.

For more information about the Midwest Theater or the fundraiser event, call 308-632-4311. For more information about Gering’s Christmas in the Plaza event, contact the Gering Visitors Bureau at 308-436-6886.

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