Bike parade kicks off Hollywood Happenings 15th annual event

GOWANDA – The 15th annual Hollywood Happen-ings kicked off Friday evening with the roaring of bikes making their way down West Main Street.

The parade of motorcyclists, from as far south as Florida and as far west as Missouri, rolled their way across Main Street to the Hollywood Theater. Bikes were parked on the street where people could take a close look.

The annual event, which is sponsored by Harley Davidson, Gernatt, and Wolf’s Run, will hold activities and events to benefit the ongoing restoration to the Hollywood Theater. It all started as a one-day event, but now it goes throughout the weekend. It is one of the largest and most anticipated events that attracts many motorcylists and enthusiasts.

“It’s a restoration, not a renovation, so it takes a long time because we have to get grants,” Diane Dye said. “Each step takes a while, and that’s why we are on our 15th annual Hollywood Happening.”

The Hollywood Theater was built in 1926 by Richard Wilhelm after a fire in 1924 that destroyed it, according to board member Linda Jones. Once the theater opened to the public, movies, plays and concerts took stage. 1992 was the year that the theater closed down.

The theater, however, was not forgotten.

During the mid 1990s, the Gernatt Family of Companies bought the theater and donated it to the village of Gowanda. Now, the restoration is well under way, with new doors and windows installed. Air conditioning throughout the building has also been installed.

“We are at the point now where all we have to do is re-plaster and re-paint,” Dye said. “They do have some events in here already, but there’s a lot to be done cosmetically. But the big structural stuff has been accomplished. They have worked very hard, and it has taken a lot of fundraisers. But it’s beautiful. We will be able to do live stage performances and show movies.”

Dye went on to say that new sound equipment, an organ, lighting and seats are things that are on the list to install in the theater.

“It’s fantastic,” Jones said. “It’s taken 15 years, if not longer. When it’s done, its going to be absolutely gorgeous. It’s sad that people do not realize how long it takes to do it the proper way. It took 17 changes to fix a flat roof because they wanted it done the right way. They didn’t need sprinkler systems and handicap bathrooms were things they didn’t need back then. It’s all these little things that take time and money.”

The festivities will continue throughout the weekend with live music, food, a motorcycle showcase and a tattoo contest. They are a good way to enjoy bike season in western New York.

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