Community of Park Rapids Offering Help on Repairs of Park Theater

What started off as small sparks has now turned into a damaged piece of history.

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. — A classic symbol that’s graced Main Street of Park Rapids since 1938 has been damaged.

We first brought you the story last night of the Park Theater’s marquee on fire.

What started off as small sparks has now turned into a damaged piece of history.

“I kind of smelled something, walked outside didn’t see anything,” said Co-Owner Scott Wilson. “Went up, looked over the marquee and saw smoke coming out of the right side of the marquee.”

Just after seven ‘o clock on Monday night, firefighters arrived on scene and put out the fire within minutes.

“The crew did a good job,” said Assistant Chief Terry Long. “We spent maybe five minutes, maybe 10 minutes putting out the fire and then another half hour or so making sure that it didn’t extend into the building.”

The marquee may have been destroyed, but the building and the three theaters only had smoke damage.

“That was our biggest fear that we’d have extension into the building and then have a building fire on Main Street,” said Long.

With a movie theater whose bones are 79 years old, fire officials say the blaze may have been caused by an electrical problem.

Owners explained that as frightening as the situation was, the importance was evacuating the building of more than 50 people.

“The biggest thing is that we’re fortunate that nobody got injured nobody got hurt, everybody got out safely. And the firemen showed up and put out the fire,” said Wilson.

In case of an emergency, while you’re watching a movie, theaters provide multiple ways to exit the building. At Park Theater, there are two rear exits and two front exits to keep moviegoers safe.

“You know, we don’t anticipate this ever happening, but when it does, hopefully you’re prepared and try to get people out,” said Wilson. “That’s what we tried to do.”

Scott has been working with the theater for the past 15 years.

He said owners want the new sign to be almost identical to its original style.

“It’s one of those things where you have a hopeless feeling and you look at it and you say, ‘jeez I’m helpless’ but, the fire department got here, they put it out and we were just ecstatic that it was done the way it was and we kept it to the marquee,” Wilson said.

The inside of the theater still has all of its original character and this new sign, will resemble the old with a little bit of new.

The theater is hoping to open its doors to the public again by Friday.

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