Ninety years of entertaining Sandpoint was highlighted last Saturday by a very talented crew, a handful of staff and volunteers and enjoyed by a special audience of those reminiscing and celebrating the evening. The celebration started with a special art show reception in the Panida Little Theatre with art present and past that included the Panida (thank you artists). Thank you to coordinators Carol J. Kovalchuk and Nan E. Cooper for doing a spectacular job. Rainie Conley made it look festive with gold 90th highlight decorations including balloons from Sharon’s Hallmark, and she was assisted by Lynn Blodgett Piper and Nancy Foster Renk. Thank you to Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant and Trinity at City Beach for the delicious treats. Washington Trust Bank (Raina Delema) made sure we had an extra large cake decorated beautifully, although we decided to forgo the 90 candles. Our trip down memory lane began with a photo of FC and Adella Weskil and the showing of a short clip from the very first movie ever shown at the Panida, ‘Now We’re in the Air’. It had been lost and only recently recovered and restoration in still in progress on the film. The evening included talent to highlight each decade. The Panida thanks Harold’s IGA and David Gunter with his ukulele for kicking off the ‘20s and the ‘30s in song as well as Deanna Benton and Morgan Gariepy for vintage dances we still enjoy. Joellie Heneise performed two numbers beautifully, and one was to pay tribute to all of the volunteers that have kept and continue to keep the Panida humming. The acting talents of Dean Thomas and Eric Bond delighted in a scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life” that has been shown as a movie and performed on the stage in a reader’s theatre in years prior. Miriam Robinson in her best ‘Marilyn’ gave a sweet happy birthday song tribute. Jennifer Chastain delivered an outstanding ‘50s song and then an acting tribute to the Jerk by Dean again. The ‘60s were made extra special with Oak Street Connection (Chrystle Horvath and Sam Cornett). Sadie Sicilia and Mike Wagoner helped us pay tribute to the great legends who have performed on the Panida stage as they performed a song from Joan Baez and one from Bonnie Raitt. A moving moment played out for those who worked to save the Panida including a tribute to Jane Evans, Laurel Wagers, and Susan Bates-Harbuck. Deanna and special pianist Bud riveted in the musical theatre tribute. The film clips and pictures gathered over the last 90 years of material was artfully put together by Becky Revak and Joshua Vest. Megan Isabelle White was a huge help with costuming, Mark Watson with sound, Bill Lewis with lighting and Robert Moore with stage managing. Special commemorative mugs are for sale in the lobby and gave us a great way to continue to celebrate. Thank you to Allergale Design, Janis Linnan, Becky Revak and Nancy Renk for that touch.
Thank you to all in the community who continue to support the Panida Theater. To the current and past board members who are given the huge task of fundraising to keep the doors open and building ready; to the staff, past and present, who work tirelessly in order to keep the events happening and keep it shining including past executive directors Karen Bowers, Barry Bonifas, Deb McShane and Karen Briggs.
It is a daunting task at times to keep the doors open and the marquee lit up, and I am grateful to this community, and I am always aware we ride on the shoulders of giants. Let us continue to honor F.C. Weskil’s vision and continue to celebrate engaging movies, great concerts, captivating dance performances, the magic of live theatre, the joy of comedy and above all the spirit of the Panida that lives through all of us. It will take a great deal to keep it going, but it’s worth it.
With sincere gratitude,