ROSENDALE – It's been a long time. A lifetime of over six decades that the Cacchio family has owned a single-screen theater called The Rosendale Theatre on Main Street, Rosendale. Factually, it's probably one of the few family-owned theaters left — especially one abundant with nostalgia. Wooden floors sans polyurethane, popcorn served in paper bags, mirror-topped candy vending machines accepting quarters, and comfy velvet seats with elbow room. Ah, the nostalgia of it all.
But as they say, "All good things must come to an end" — but do they?
Not in this case. Thursday, August 19, 2010, marks the real estate closing for the sale of the Rosendale Theatre — and the "opening" of the Rosendale Collective's ownership of this Main Street icon.
"We have always strived to play good films," said Anthony Cacchio, Jr., son of the original owners, Fanny and Anthony Cacchio, Sr. who bought and started the theatre in February of 1949.
And according to "Uncle Tony," as everyone calls him, 1949's Blood on the Moon, starring Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Preston, which screened on their opening night, is the kind of film he favors. "A nice old time western," he said.
Uncle Tony particularly liked movies where people clap at the end while he was at the helm of his 35mm Strong projector.
If walls could talk, those at 408 Main Street have many stories to tell, from the hustle of firemen jumping on fire trucks, when the building doubled as a make-shift fire department, while movies were projected on the screen; to the many entertainers of the building's vaudeville days — dancers, singers and musicians — performing on a stage that still provides the platform for the Theatre's most recent live shows; to the cheers of winners and cries of losers during the 20s and 30s, when the building housed The Rosendale Casino.
As the Cacchios make their final curtain call on their family's legacy, Michael Cacchio said, "Initially I was a little saddened and melancholy that the family would be selling the Theatre, but it is being taken over by what I consider an extended family and people who love and respect what my grandmother and grandfather started 61 years ago. They [the Collective] share the same ideals and sensitivity towards providing inexpensive and quality entertainment to the local community. Uncle Tony and I plan on remaining actively involved and we hope that the public will respond to them with the same loyalty and respect that they showed us for the past six decades."
Brian Cafferty, a close friend of the Cacchio family, said, "They're not just buying bricks and mortar; they're buying the good will created by the Cacchio family over the past 61 years. [The Cacchios] have earned the hearts and loyalty of the community and because of that the Collective was able to generate a huge outpouring of donations from the public to purchase the theater."
And as the Rosendale Theatre Collective gathered, prior to the Cacchios turning their family legacy over to them, it was said that it was appropriate and poignant that they were having their final meeting where it all began — in The Big Cheese, next-door to the Theatre.
Collective members had much to say about this landmark event.
Chairman, Richard (F-Stop) Minissali said, "It's a great pleasure to be able to say that the Collective has reached the goal of acquiring the Rosendale Theatre to retain for our community. There have been contributions of all sorts from hundreds of people and we look forward to many years of keeping the tradition alive."
Leslee Rachel Cooper wanted to thank everyone who had donated their time.
"Every single contribution has been incredibly important, and we're all celebrating this together," she said.
And Gale McGovern's shout-out was to every single person in Orange, Ulster and Dutchess Counties with, "Come to the movies!"
Fern Revzin, who had a milestone birthday in March, said she asked for donations to the Collective as her birthday present, but feels she's really getting her birthday present with the new ownership taking over. Edward Schoelwer remarked that everyone should be "totally thrilled" and felt the entire community pulled itself together to make this happen, adding "Now the challenge is to keep it going."
It's all so bittersweet in a way — change sometimes is hard to bear. But remember, they say when one door closes another opens and thus the Rosendale Collective will open their door to continue the Cacchio family's tradition of supporting independent filmmakers, community arts groups, and will continue the Theatre's relationship with the Woodstock Film Festival with expansive goals for this annual event.
Be it known that this article is dedicated to the late Fanny, Tony Sr. and Rocco Cacchio — may your dreams live on forever.