Coleman Theatre chandelier shines gloriously
September 20, 2004
Below are comments made by Sally Rollins, a volunteer for the Friends of The Coleman Theatre Beautiful in Miami, Oklahoma. She tells the story behind the restoration of the theatre's original chandelier.

We are all excited to see the original chandelier hanging after being missing since the '60s.

A miracle occurred in 1990 when Ann Coleman called Willie Osborn after she found the chandelier's metal frame in a barn. It was black and in pieces. We weren't sure it was brass until some tourists, finding it on display at the Coleman, began rubbing a corner of it for good luck.

About three years ago, after we discovered an identical light hanging in a Columbia, MO theater, we began plans to restore what we had. Huge pieces of glass and the crystals were missing. We were stymied until we found the artisan in Columbia who had restored the "slump glass work" on the fixture there. Over $40,000 was needed for the project.

We have put nearly $3000 worth of crystal on it, but $3000 more is needed. We purchased the extra long 6-1/2 inch drops to hang on the bottom three rings as they are the most visible.

Donations for crystals were made by the Oklahoma Porsche Club, the Miami High School Class of 1958 and a private foundation. Hundreds of volunteer hours were contributed in part by Danny Booth of Booth and Booth Electric.

Our goal was raising the fixture for the 75th Anniversary Gala, April 16-18, 2004. Therein lies a tale.

Working feverishly, Danny and Pat Youngberg tried to get the glitches out before the start of the anniversary events. Unfortunately, there were other problems that day to interfere with their task. But at dawn on the second day of the anniversary celebration with the Youngberg's assistance things were clicking. Aided by volunteers, it looked like we were going to make it.

At 7 p.m. we were really turning on the heat with some yelling, "It's almost showtime; we aren't going to make it" and others yelling, "Come on, we can do it."

Chuck Rollins was on the balcony floor under the chandelier hanging 350 crystals as fast as he could. The Youngbergs were screwing in light bulbs on huge round disks holding 15 candles each. A volunteer was shortening the chain of crystals that held the huge ball on the bottom. There was lots of confusion, lots of tools being passed around, lots of activity, then a call for Willie Osborn.

We were ready to hang the ball before hoisting the chandelier up. We needed Willie's height to accomplish the task. The gathering audience began to sense the excitement and rushed down front to watch.

Pat was in the attic turning the huge hand crank and talking back and forth to Danny via walkie-talkies. After she made the chandelier rise a foot, Willie was assigned to hang the ball in the middle. He was nervous that the crystal chain would not hold the ball, and, so, I held the ball while Willie hooked the chain. The chandelier was on its slow journey up, thanks again to Pat's rotation of the crank.

The crowd below screamed, applauded and cheered as this beautiful piece of art rose slowly to the ceiling. Of course, the real thrill was when the switch was thrown and the colors changed on cue. Oooohhs and aaaahhs from down below gave us in the balcony goose bumps.

The chandelier weighs 1994 pounds and measures 10 1/2 feet across and 12 feet tall, and it throws light into every corner of the theatre. What a great moment in the restoration of our building!

We love the project. Can you tell? What a memory!!!

Visit the Coleman Theatre to see this magnificent chandelier for yourselves. If you want to leave money for the 76 pentalogues or the nearly mile long string of crystal beads we need, please do so by labeling your contribution, "crystals." Once they are ordered, they will hang as long as the theatre stands.

Checks may be sent to Friends of the Coleman Theatre Beautiful, POB 2, Miami, OK 74354. For more info about upcoming events, telephone (918) 540-2425. The Coleman Theatre is on fascinating Route 66 in downtown Miami, OK.

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