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Cochrane Movie House lighting up the silver screen for free seniors' movie day

“We thought it would be nice to get them out and enjoying a day at the movies,” DeMaere-Ellis said. “This is a nice way to start integrating them back into our community and having a normal life.”
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Seniors advocate Bill Gibbons, left, and Cochrane Movie House owner Hal Wolf stand outside the movie house on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Chelsea Kemp/The Cochrane Eagle)

COCHRANE— Lighting up the silver screen for Cochrane seniors, The Cochrane Movie House will be hosting a special free screening of On Golden Pond July 19.  

Bill Gibbons, activist for the new seniors' centre in Cochrane, said seniors living in Cochrane and the surrounding area have been hit harder by the pandemic than any other age group, “but they are tough and resilient.”

Local philanthropist Dan Kroffat was instrumental in bringing the free movie and popcorn day for seniors to Cochrane through a collaboration with the non-profit Communities of Alberta Networking for Seniors Association and sponsors Cochrane Toyota, McDonalds and the Cochrane Movie House.

“The movie will bring us back together. It will be like a seniors family reunion and hugs are allowed,” Gibbons said.

He called the selection of On Golden Pond (1981) a wonderful choice for a movie. The Academy Award-winning film featuring Katherine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda tells the story of a family looking to reconnect after years of estrangement.

“It’s a very heartwarming senior movie,” Gibbons said. “A lot of people can relate to it.”

It has been wonderful to see seniors registering for the free movie and popcorn taking place at 1 p.m. on July 19. As of Tuesday (July 6), 130 spots of the 150 available had been reserved. Wolf said will be able to add additional seats if needed.

The free movie day is available to any senior over the age of 50 and can register through Gibbons by calling 403-932-6328.

Hal Wolf, of the Cochrane Movie House, said the senior's movie day has been in the works since the middle of the pandemic, but proved difficult to organize given the openings and closings necessitated by COVID-19 public health measures.

“We wanted to be part of it, but we really couldn’t commit to it because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Wolf said.

Now that restrictions have been lifted it is a great opportunity for the theatre to collaborate with seniors. Wolf added seniors have always been a critical audience at the Movie House and grateful to give back.

“Our philosophy here has been if we’re going to do businesses in the community you need to be part of the community,” Wolf said. “This is just one step in being involved. It’s a worthwhile cause.”

He added senior movie days marks the first major event since re-opening and will serve as a critical way to re-launch the theatre.

“It means we’re back open for business. It’s nice to be able to invite the group back,” Gibbons said. “Everyone is excited to come it’s going to be just like a regular premier event. That’s huge for us.”

The event will kick off the push to help bring the new seniors centre to the community.

Gibbons praised the planned seniors centre at the Tri-Site and its ability to accommodate seniors with ground floor entry and expanded facilities.

“It will create an atmosphere where seniors look forward to congregating. It will be a fun place to meet and socialize. We will form new friendships and build camaraderie,” Gibbons said.

The new seniors centre will benefit the entire community, Gibbons said, and called on the community to support through the Mayors' Invitational Golf Tournament on July 26 at GlenEagles Golf Course.

He added they will be accepting donations for the new seniors' centre during the free movie day.

Communities of Alberta Networking for Seniors Association treasurer and manager of the southern region Cheryle DeMaere-Ellis said seniors have had a long hall in their nursing homes during COVID-19, and the organization was compelled to find a way to help them celebrate summer.

Communities of Alberta Networking for Seniors Association has focussed its efforts on Points West Living Cochrane, Grande Avenue Village, Bethany Cochrane and Big Hill Lodge since Christmas to help make life a little brighter for seniors during COVID-19.

“We just felt that it was important to get the seniors out,” she said.

DeMaere-Ellis's mother lives at Bethany Cochrane so she knows first-hand how challenging the pandemic has been for seniors.

“We thought it would be nice to get them out and enjoying a day at the movies,” DeMaere-Ellis said. “This is a nice way to start integrating them back into our community and having a normal life.”

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Chelsea Kemp

About the Author: Chelsea Kemp

Chelsea Kemp joined the Cochrane Eagle in 2020 as editor, bringing with her experience as a reporter and photojournalist. She writes about politics, health care, arts and entertainment and Indigenous stories.
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