Showtime: Pomona Fox Theater reopens

By Daniel Ucko

The newly restored Fox Theater in downtown Pomona opened for the
Fox First Night Sneak Preview fundraiser Saturday, complete with a
red carpet, local celebrities and classic cars.

Five ribbon-cutting ceremonies took place to mark the sold-out
event, which included appearances from celebrity Carol Channing,
Pomona Mayor Elliot Rothman and the Tessier family, who are
credited with rejuvenating the downtown area.

“Being that my son is a Bronco and will be graduating this year,
the proximity of having the Fox near the Cal Poly center just ties
the whole downtown together,” said Rothman.

Friday marks the 78th anniversary of the Fox Theater, which was
known in the 1930s and ’40s for hosting test screenings for major
Hollywood films where celebrites would come to watch audience
reaction. The vaudeville stage also hosted plenty of live plays and
events like radio shows hosted by Bob Hope.

The 11th annual Smogdance Film Festival will be at the Fox this
weekend to celebrate the anniversary as the first public event.

“It’s really going to build everything,” said Charlotte Cousins,
Smogdance director and treasurer for the Pomona Fox Board. “We’ve
already come together as a community to help out as much as
possible here.”

The Art Deco Fox palace is as a flagship of downtown Pomona’s
history, and the restoration has been long awaited since the city
purchased the theater for $1.1 million in 2002.

Ed and Jerry Tessier, along with Glass House owners Paul and
Perry Tollett put $10 million into renovation and restoration of
the Fox, which will be holding concerts, classic films, movie
festivals, live performances and parties.

The four-man business team of the Tolletts and Tessiers
purchased the theater from the city for $1.6 million in 2007.

The Tessiers have been a major factor in revitalizing the
downtown Pomona Arts Colony and Antique Row districts since their
father asked the brothers, along with Vicki Tessier, to take over
six buildings he owned downtown.

President Michael Ortiz and Provost Martin denBoer were in
attendance, as well as Miss Pomona, to see the theater break
ground.

Ortiz said that the Fox Theater is not the only aspect of
downtown Pomona that has helped make the area a thriving community
of arts, culture and music with regular farmer’s markets and art
walks.

“Not to discredit [the Tessiers], but I think the downtown
center had a lot do with spurring the downtown,” said Ortiz.

Ginna Escobar, a Cal Poly student in 2005, was happy to see the
Fox restoration a reality as she spoke about it when she won the
title of Miss Pomona in 2005-2006.

“In my speech, I wanted this place to be restored,” said
Escobar. “And so now, four years later, it is. Being here tonight,
it’s cool how Pomona is being restored. People don’t see the bad
side. People can dress up now, feel safe, go out an evening on the
town [and] go see the show.”

The historic opening brought out hundreds, including onlookers
in the community taking in the scene from Third Street. Those
attending the $135 dinner and ball inside the theater were dressed
in their finest, from black gowns to zoot suits.

“The Fox Theater kind of ties down both sides of the street, and
with the Glass House in the middle it has the whole triangle
offense,” said Rothman.

Reach Daniel Ucko at editorinchief@thepolypost.com

Showtime: Pomona Fox Theater reopens

Chris Sloan/Poly Post

Showtime: Pomona Fox Theater reopens

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