Photo by David Grace.
KINGSPORT — Hundreds stood at 140 Broad St. as the countdown began to flip the switch powering the old Strand Theater marquee Tuesday.
The countdown ended with the marquee’s bulbs flashing, and the ribbon being cut for the grand opening of the building’s new owner: The LampLight Theatre.
“We’re not worthy but we’re definitely grateful,” Billy Wayne Arrington, LampLight’s manager, said before the countdown began.
The grand opening marked a new chapter in the non-profit Christian performing arts group’s ministry.
Months ago, LampLight purchased the downtown property from the Restoration Church and decided to relocate from its Fall Branch home.
About 150 volunteers then descended on the Broad Street location, and added seating, a new stage and ticket booth, new wiring, fresh paint and carpeting, and “all the crafty things that needed to be done,” Arrington said.
A variety show is scheduled to debut at LampLight’s new downtown location this weekend.
Arrington said the new home will give LampLight more chances to offer family Christian entertainment to the community.
“We want to be accessible. It’s just going to be a lot easier for people to get to us and really minister to the community,” Arrington said.
Mayor Dennis Phillips thanked Arrington and others for putting their faith in the downtown location.
“What we need downtown are things that bring people,” Phillips told the crowd on Broad Street before the ribbon cutting. “...For everything to prosper, we need people downtown...Parking seems to always be a problem downtown. When you really have a problem is when downtown doesn’t have a parking problem.”
The location’s seating capacity, Arrington said, will be close to 600.
LampLight is operated through suggested admission prices and love offerings. Its productions are offered to accommodate family incomes, but a love offering is also taken to help cover expenses.
Arrington said the group is still taking donations for renovations.
“Most of everything has been donated or paid for,” he said. “There’s some carpeting we need to get done...As we get the money, we’ll continue to do renovations.”
Donations are tax-deductible. To make a donation, or to fulfill a previous pledge, call LampLight at (423) 348-7610.
LampLight’s vision is centered around the Bible scripture in Psalm 119 that says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
For more go to www.lamplighttheatre.com