The Coronado Performing Arts Center celebrates 90 years - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

The Coronado Performing Arts Center celebrates 90 years

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Thousands have walked through it's doors and experienced the beauty of the Coronado Performing Arts Center in Rockford. 

"It's a new experience every single time I come here," said Andrea Cook, Marketing Director of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Coronado opened it's doors officially October 9th, 1927, even then it was an instant classic. 

"They spent 1.5 million dollars on the theater to build it. In 1927, that was insane money," said Matthew Gibbons, Committee Member with Friends of the Coronado. 

An investment that drew in some of the biggest names in entertainment. Gibbons said, "You had some of the biggest hitters come in. Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra." 

While the stars lit up the stage, it's the Coronado's magic that's drawn in generations from a young age including Mary Ann Smith. 

"This place has been a part of my life forever," said Smith. "I came here for Disney cartoons, the movies, and also for the community concerts." 

But as time went on, Mary Ann saw the magic of the Coronado fading due to neglect, water damage, and unwelcome visitors. 

"A pigeon flew over my husbands head," said Smith. "That was it. We looked at each other and we knew we had to take a role in this theater, in saving this theater and passing it on." 

That's exactly what they did. Mary Ann and her husband formed The Friends of the Coronado in 1997 to raise money for a full renovation of the theater. They raised 18.5 million dollars and a lot of that money came from community members. 

"People love this theater," said Matthew Gibbons. "If it wasn't for the community of Rockford and the people of Rockford it wouldn't of happened." 

An investment by the community to preserve the memories of past generations and the foundation to build memories in the future. 

Beth Howard, Executive Director of Friends of the Coronado said, "Grandparents want their grand-kids to have this. That's why the work of 'The Friends' continues so that it will be here for another 90 years and beyond." 

Mary Ann Smith said, "Paris has the Eiffel Tower, India has the Taj Mahal, we have the Coronado." 

This weekend the Coronado will celebrate it's 90th birthday with 2-free events open to the community. 

For more information on how you can attend here is more information http://www.coronadopac.org/

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