DeLand’s Historic Athens Theatre is turning 100 years old, and Central Florida is invited to join in the fun-filled free flapper-esque festivities!
From 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9, the clocks will roll back to 1922, and the extravaganza of the century will spill out the theater’s front doors and onto West Indiana and North Florida avenues in Downtown DeLand.
The Athens Theatre, in partnership with AdventHealth DeLand, invites you, your family and the entire community to don your duds, park your tin lizzie, paint the town, and cut a rug, as we celebrate 100 years of memories.
The Athens Theatre opened its leaded-glass doors Jan. 6, 1922, and continued as the entertainment centerpiece of DeLand through the 1950s.
In 1993, the MainStreet DeLand Association saved the theater from demolition and restored the front facade to its original 1920s appearance — but the inside remained dilapidated and unusable (other than as a haunted house at Halloween).
In 2004, Sands Theater Center Inc. took over ownership and began restoring the theater’s interior. After a decade of dark days, on Jan. 6, 2009, the Athens Theatre reopened to the public.
Now offering more than 100 performances annually, the redbrick beauty once again fulfills her destiny as a cultural and entertainment hub for DeLand and Central Florida.
For the 100th anniversary, the public can celebrate on the streets in front of the theater, which will be dressed with historic automobiles and Victorian high-wheel bicycles. Guests will enjoy free entertainment from The Ramblers (a 13-piece 1920s jazz/swing band), and vaudeville-esque street performances by fan-favorite Phantasmagoria. Joe Hearn Events will provide cash beverage and food stations.
Grab your best flapper attire to be entered in the 1920s-themed costume contest, where the winner will receive complimentary box seats to attend the Athens season closer, Ragtime (a value of $375).
Don’t find wearing costumes to be the cat’s meow? Instead, enter a Charleston Dance-Off contest! The last set of dancing gams will receive four tickets to an upcoming 2022 Athens Theatre production. Children’s contest winners will receive half off for a theater summer-camp session.
Event speakers will include Athens Theatre Board President Joey Maxwell and Sands Theater Center founder Rene Sands. Then, DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar will address the crowd at 3:45 p.m. before inviting guests into the theater for the showcase “All Diamonds: An Evening With Our Finest & Brightest Stars,” featuring performances from the Athens Theatre Company and the Athens Youth Academy.
Performers from the past decade will join the celebration by presenting pastproduction highlights, including Grease, The Little Mermaid, Mamma Mia, Chicago, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Les Misérables, 9 to 5, Always Patsy Cline, Singin’ in the Rain, and a special tribute to beloved friends of the theater whom we have lost. Ten-dollar donations for this indoor portion of the celebration are appreciated.