Santa kicks off Hamburg Strand’s holiday plans

by Super User
A visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus and a showing of the “Polar Express” during the Polar Bear Express Party kicked off holiday plans at The Hamburg Strand Theatre on Dec. 2. Showing of “The Last Jedi” is a highlight of the season at the historic, single-screen theatre. Other holiday plans include the showing of the classic favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 26, and a matching-dollar fundraiser through the end of 2017.

Mother-daughter duo Stephanie Adam, coordinator at the Strand, and Bethany Sholl, theater manager, baked and packed up cookies a few days prior to the Polar Bear Express Party.

This was the third year for the family-focused event, featuring 2004’s “Polar Express.” A highlight was the distribution of treats in conjunction with a musical number on the screen.

“We turned the house lights on and we served hot chocolate and cookies to all the kids and all the adults in the theater,” Adam said. Following the matinee show, Santa arrived to meet children and pose for pictures. Santa rang a bell throughout his visit, reminding children that only true believers in Christmas can hear the sound. Now, the Strand’s staff are prepping for “The Last Jedi,” next in the Star Wars series that opens nationwide and in Hamburg on Dec. 15. Advance tickets are not available, so those interested in snagging tickets on opening night are advised to arrive well before the 7 p.m. showing. “It’s insane,” Sholl said, laughing as she recalled enthusiasm for previous installments in the series. “It’s nice to see people who are so passionate about a movie.” Adam added, “We had one guy that said he saw the last Star Wars movie 32 times, and 18 of those were at our theatre.” Commemorative popcorn buckets will be sold during the run of The Last Jedi. As part of a $15 combo, guests can bring the tub back to any future show at the Strand for a $4 popcorn refill. The Last Jedi will run for three weeks at the Strand. The theatre will continue “Faith at the Movies” at 7 p.m. on Dec. 26. The monthly series spotlights classic and modern films and is cosponsored by the Hamburg Ministerium and the Reading Berks Conference of Churches. This month’s selection is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Director Frank Capra’s 1946 fantasy piece features Jimmy Stewart and has become a holiday-time staple. Tickets to Faith at the Movies are $8 and include a small popcorn and small soda. Proceeds benefit the Northern Berks Ministerium and the Northern Berks Emergency Assistance Fund. For details about the movie series, email Rev. Bruce Osterhout at or contact the Strand at 610-562-4750. The historic theater has undergone changes since 2013, when the Our Town Foundation took ownership. Completed work include the switch from reel-to-reel to digital film, restoration of the marque sign, installing new bathrooms and renovating the stage. Work was also done on the roof and in the electrical systems. Next up? Creating bathrooms and dressing rooms behind the screen to allow for expanded, live performances. The theater set a three-year fundraising goal of $200,000, and with just $7,500 remaining, both Sholl and Adam hope to complete this phase in 2017. To that end, an anonymous donor has offered to match funds, dollar-for-dollar, up to $25,000. “Anyone that donates $100 from now until the end of the year gets a movie pass for the whole year for all 2018. That’s a great Christmas gift,” Sholl said. “Or,” Adam added, “you can get a framed, signed movie poster from all the previous owners.”

Applications for the fundraiser are available at the Strand and should be turned into the Our Town Foundation, 335 State Street, Hamburg. Visit Hamburg Strand at 6 South Fourth Street, Hamburg. Regular theater times are Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Details are available via Facebook at

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