David Trinko: A ‘Wonderful’ tradition in Bluffton

BLUFFTON — Sometimes it takes a nearly 70-year-old movie to remind you about all the good in your life.

That’s why Dewayne Weaver and his wife, Cindy, were in Bluffton’s Shannon Theatre on Friday afternoon to watch Dewayne’s favorite Christmas movie.

“It’s just the title of it: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” Dewayne Weaver said. “Everything’s going bad for George Bailey, and then he realizes at the end, it’s like he says: He’s the ‘richest man in the world.’”

The 1946 movie directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed continues to resonate today. Each year for about 10 years, the Shannon Theatre offered two free showings of the film on Black Friday, theater owner Pete Suter said. Suter said it feels like a great way to start the holiday season, and it unofficially kicks off the Blaze of Lights Festival in Bluffton this weekend.

“I think that it does an incredible job demonstrating that there really are significant challenges in life,” Suter said. “But if we look past that, and we rely on each other, it’s all going to work out.”

For the Weavers, it was a pleasant surprise to learn about the free screening. They recently moved from Dunkirk to Bluffton and were happy to join in on the “small-town thing to do,” Cindy Weaver said. They’d never seen the film on the big screen before, they said.

The film follows Bailey, who runs a modest building and loan company in Bedford Falls. When $8,000 (or $126,224 in today’s dollars) of the business’s deposits come up missing, Bailey becomes despondent and thinks about ending his life. His guardian angel, Clarence, shows him how people’s lives would’ve been worse without him. The people of the town eventually come to his rescue near the end, donating what they can to make the deposit.

Brooke Conley and Britton Gilica, both of Lima, said they’d never seen the movie before but knew it was a classic. Gilica had seen bits and pieces of it over the years and wanted to watch the movie in its entirety.

“I know it’s one of the classics, so it’s worth the watch,” Conley said. “I’ve always heard good things about it.”

For Gilica, it’s an opportunity to see the whole movie, uninterrupted by commercials on television or any of the other distractions of daily life.

“It’s supposed to be one of the best Christmas movies ever made, ” Gilica said, “and I just thought it sounded like something interesting to do.”

The inclusion of Bailey’s guardian angel, Clarence, made Julia Szabo want to see the film again inside the Shannon Theatre.

“There’s the fact that there is a God, there are angels, and every life matters,” Szabo said. “Even if you’re in the depths of despair, you need to turn your eyes to heaven and realize that you life has value.”

She’d been to a showing four years ago with her then-93-year-old mother-in-law, who has since passed away. Seeing it on the Shannon’s digital projection system makes it “100 times better” than watching it at home, she said.

Suter was happy to show the film again at the Shannon Theatre and show people there’s a happy ending in sight, no matter your troubles.

“That’s what I love about movies,” Suter said. “It allows us to escape for a little while. More and often than not, it comes to a really smooth ending, and you realize life’s going to be OK.”


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.