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Park Theater neon shines again

Owner Pam Wilson lights up the new neon display Monday night at the Park Theater in downtown Park Rapids. The neon lights recently started to shine again after replacement of the marquee, resulting from a fire that damaged the front of the movie house a year ago. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

Neon lights advertising Park Rapids' historic movie theater are glowing again.

The fixtures were installed during the last week of June, along with a new, improved marquee to replace one damaged by an electrical fire on June 24, 2017.

By July 16, the lights had been adding their red, white, blue and gold glow to the downtown area for a few nights.

The light show includes a violet-blue glow on the facade of the historic art-deco-style building, flashing tragedy and comedy masks, curving tubes and the words "Park Theater." Crowning it all are vertical letters spelling the word "Park" that flash on and off, together or one at a time.

Pam Wasche Wilson, who has owned the theater more than 25 years, said construction of what was then known as the Baehr Building started in 1937, and it opened in 1940.

Originally there was only one screen. The Park Theater was twinned, or divided in two, in 1992, and remodeled to three screens in 2011.

At 37 feet, the 3D-capable screen in its main auditorium is the largest movie screen in central Minnesota, Wilson said. All three auditoriums have rocker seats, digital projectors and surround sound.

Besides all the new trappings, Wilson was proud to note one thing that hasn't changed in all the years she has owned the theater — the loyal service of long-time worker Nancy Dickinson.

Wilson also owns the Comet Theatre in Perham.