Miracle on Center Street, Live in HD
The majority of us here at the Paramount Theatre have spent our entire adult lives working in the arts, and the majority of the staff is, as well, rabid sports fans.
One year ago we had absolutely no idea that we would add $75,000 in enhanced exhibition technology, which would allow us to present, not only the “Live in HD From the Metropolitan Opera Series,” but also postseason Major League Baseball and National Football League broadcasts, free of charge, in crystal-clear HD on a 30-by-24-foot screen.
The moment of discovery following completion of the installation was a moment to remember. Once the many pieces of technology required to present Met Live were in place and fully functioning, the Paramount staff stopped, looked at one another and spoke five powerful words: “What if we were to?”
In short order, we had an HD box installed in our booth and dialed up the first sporting event we could find — a soccer game in progress in Germany. Our jaws dropped — the image and the sound were like nothing we could have imagined and certainly had never seen or heard.
After the acquisition of a “public view” contract from Comcast, the Sports Live in HD Series was on its way.
The subsequent roll-out of the entire postseason charge of the Boston Red Sox was nothing short of a Rutland miracle — Live in HD. Night after night and game after game, diversified audiences thrilled to the gigantic new image and enhanced sound: We could see names on bats and dew on the grass. Home runs exploded like shots from a cannon.
Audiences represented the full spectrum of the extended community: laborers and chief executives, accountants and educators, lawyers and janitors, college students and elementary school kids, fixed-income seniors (including 84-year-old Lorraine Allen, a Red Sox fan for 78 years, who was brought to the games by her son Doug and who pronounced the proceedings “awesome!”), and 15-year-old Rutland native Noah Jakubowski, delivering a rousing, live a cappella rendition of “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth inning of the Saturday night World Series game ended by “obstruction.”
The buzz and the electricity in these crowds were like nothing any of us have experienced in a formal theatre in our lifetimes. Big Papi’s grand slam (certainly the turning point of the ALCS), Victorino’s slam to propel them into the Series and his bases-clearing double in the final game and Koji’s final strike to send the Redbirds home to St. Louis, produced group euphoria bordering on hysteria. Live championship sports pack seismic jolts and unbridled joy.
So many profound thanks are in order (now and for years to come) for helping us realize this new Live in HD technology for the entire community: the board of the Paramount for extending us the faith that we could deliver and fund it; the aldermen of the city of Rutland (led by the passion of Sharon Davis and the eloquence of Ed Larson) former Mayor John Cassarino at a critical moment, Tom Huebner and Rutland Regional Medical Center, the Johnson Family Foundation, the Vermont Arts Council and many individuals, all of whom contributed generously to the campaign to bring it and the extended campaign to sustain it. We, on behalf of our board and the extended community, are profoundly grateful.
The postseason is over, and we were there. The Red Sox are world champs. The trophy has been raised, Fenway is quiet, and Boston Strong is strong indeed. Rutland Strong is strong as well, and the future shines brightly. The sport that begins in the spring as the world is awakening has ushered in another fall with chilly and blustery nights, opening the doors to the holiday season that unites us all.
By bringing the “free” Sports in HD Series to the entire community, we have realized our dream from day one of this administration, to somehow find and bring programming that would make this a theatre for everyone. We have found it, and the dream has been realized. Miracles happen and the Paramount Theatre truly belongs to everyone.
Bruce Bouchard is executive director of the Paramount Theatre.