A Defuniak Springs restored theater is creating Holiday traditions


DEFUNIAK SPRINGS Fla. (WMBB) — The Florida Chautauqua Theatre welcomes new family traditions into this holiday season.

After taking 35 years off from screening movies and projecting them onto the big screen, they are back at it again.

Children seem to be more ready than ever for this Christmas season. Although it might not be a white Christmas, the Florida Chautauqua Theatre wants to share in that merry and bright spirit and showcase a Christmas movie matinee series every Sunday leading up to Christmas.

“Polar express!” echoed children and their families viewing the movie. 

And many came with popcorn bags in hand.

Just seeing this theater filled with joy and excitement, you would never believe it has been 35 years since a movie was projected onto the big screen.

“We are excited to offer the community a new tradition,” said Florida Chautauqua Board President Todd Bierbaum. 

Bierbaum said this traditional theater has not been able to operate in about nine months, so when brainstorming how they could keep the theater alive, they had the perfect plan.

“Just hoping we can provide a wonderful tradition and a wonderful, maybe, escape from everyday life and bring some joy back into everyone’s life,” said Bierbaum.

As far as traditions go, Walton County Commissioner Danny Glidewell remembers coming to this theater.

“When I was your age I used to come here to movies all the time,” said Glidewell.

And Walton resident Reagan Wells said her dad also grew up watching movies here, but she actually performed right on the Chautauqua stage.

“It has probably been one of the most influential things in my life; I started plays here when I was just five years old,” said Wells.

The movies will not stop after Santa and his reindeer return to the North Pole after the holidays.

“Into January, we are planning on doing some nostalgia nights where we will show some older movies, maybe from the ‘80s,” said Bierbaum. 

Bierbaum said they are also planning for children’s theatrical production workshops and high school productions scheduled for the spring. 

Here is the full list of holiday movie favorites the theatre will present leading up to December 20.

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