Traer Theatre lights up the night after long absence

Moviegoers queue in the Traer Theatre foyer last Friday night to purchase tickets — for the first time in more than 18 months — to see “Addams Family 2.” The theatre had been closed since March 17, 2020 due to the pandemic. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

The beautiful Traer Theatre marquee lights were glowing brightly along Second Street this past Friday, October 1 — beckoning the public back after more than 18 months of closure.

Following Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ public health disaster emergency proclamation on March 17, 2020, the non-profit theatre located in downtown Traer had been shut down — but all that changed Friday night at 7 p.m. when the 144-seat theatre officially reopened its doors to the public.

“We decided it was time to reopen when our community was begging for us to reopen!” Traer Theatre Manager Mona Larsen said in an email interview last week. “Everyone was missing their hometown theatre!”

About an hour ahead of showtime Friday, local children began arriving on foot, bike, and scooter for “Addams Family 2” — money in hand and ready to see a movie again on the big screen.

Just inside the theatre doors, Larsen and two of her six employees — sisters Hannah and Sophia Stewart — were busy readying the register and the popcorn machine for what they hoped would be a full house.

A toddler sporting a pink nightgown waits in line patiently just before 7 p.m. inside the Traer Theatre foyer last Friday night during the theatre’s reopening following its closure in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

The people of Traer did not disappoint.

“We’ve had over 100 [tickets sold],” Larsen said excitedly as 7 o’clock neared. “That’s good for a [Redhawks] football night.”

During the pandemic, the theatre stayed afloat using federal COVID relief funds as well donations from dedicated patrons and through Saturday night pandemic popcorn sales — the latter of which proved surprisingly popular, Larsen said.

“We had people lined up from [the theatre] to [Hometown Foods] on both sides of the street that first night [of popcorn sales].”

But no longer will movie-popcorn fans and film buffs have to pop their own popcorn nor stream the latest movie at home — Traer Theatre is back to light up the night.

Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

“I’m very excited to reopen!” Larsen said. “It’s been a long quiet spell and we’re ready to hear the chaos and excitement again.”

The Traer Theatre has long prided itself on having “hands down the best around” popcorn and $3 admission. The movie “Addams Family 2” will be held over and shown for a second weekend this Friday through Monday beginning at 7 p.m.

From left to right, Traer Theatre employees Hannah Stewart, Sophia Stewart, and Traer Theatre manager Mona Larsen are all smiles Friday night as they stand in the box office ahead of the theatre’s grand reopening. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

The historic Traer Theatre. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

The Traer Theatre marquee lights help illuminate Second Street in downtown Traer last Friday night as movie patrons queue beneath to purchase tickets for the 7 p.m. showing of “Addams Family 2.” The theatre had been closed for more than 18 months due to the pandemic. Photo by Soren M. Peterson