Gary Crow was named the 2008 volunteer of the year by the Friends of the Coleman Theatre.
Crow goes above and beyond the duties of his role as vice president of the Friends of the Coleman, according to the organization’s president Charlene Lingo.
“The volunteer of the year most often comes from the members of the board of directors of the Friends because they’re at the theatre most often,” she said. “But Gary is extra special. A man of many talents, he puts them all to use in the betterment of the Coleman.”
“I was surprised and honored to find out I was named the volunteer of the year,” Crow said.
Nominees for the volunteer of the year are taken from the floor at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Coleman.
“There’s an average of 25 nominees,” Lingo said. “But, the top three or four really stand out.
“There were three this year, but Gary stood out.”
Crow is a Miami native and attended movies at the Coleman Theatre growing up.
“My one real memory of the building as a youth was one Halloween when I went there to see a scary movie,” Crow said. “During a storm scene in the movie, some kid threw an M-80 on the stage. The timing was perfectly matched to when a tree fell over. It was so loud, everybody’s ears were ringing.”
For him, the Coleman was “no big deal” at that time.
“It was only after the theatre was given to the City of Miami and I took the ‘Mystery Tour’ and went all over the building that I realized what a neat building it is,” Crow said, explaining his interest in the building.
“When George Coleman made the building it is said that he planned it to be the nicest theater from St. Louis to Denver and Kansas City to Dallas. I think he succeeded both inside and out.”
He loves the stories of the theatre — its stained glass, the performance organ that was lost and found again, the chandlier that was found in a horse barn.
It was the refound chandlier that provided one of Crow’s most tense moments with the theatre.
“It just so happened that the original molds for the glass on the chandelier were discovered in Columbia, Mo.,” he said. “They made replacement pieces and I drove to Columbia to bring them home. I caught my breath on every bump, afraid the class might chip, but we managed to bring it home in one piece.”
One of the biggest challenges Crow has as vice president of the Friends of the Coleman is the supervision of the concessions at the theatre.
Not only does he have to get the volunteers behind the counter for every event, he has to make sure there’s enough stock.
“We went through 150 pounds of popcorn during the weekend of the Miami Little Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast in September,” Lingo said. “That’s a lot of pop corn, but Gary had it ready.”