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Free Christmas movies get viewers in the spirit

SYCAMORE - According to one local woman, Sycamore has a lot in common with one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time.

“Sycamore is just a wonderful life,” Daryl Hopper, the owner of the Sycamore State Theater, said. “Sycamore reminds me of Bedford Falls in 2012. That’s why I picked it.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” the Frank Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart, kicked off the movie theater’s Free Christmas Movie series on Nov. 17. Every weekend through Dec. 23, the downtown theater will show a favorite holiday classic for free. The movies will be shown at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and a different movie will be featured each weekend.

“We have new digital projectors and we want people to see them,” Hopper said, before turning serious. “And we want to give back to the community.”

Sycamore is lucky to still have a movie theater, which a lot of towns don’t anymore, Hopper said. She is hoping to draw people to the downtown area through the theater, which she calls “the anchor of the downtown.”

“I came up with the idea because the downtown mom and pop stores are struggling a little,” she said. “I thought if I brought in 100 people, they could see how cute it is. We want people to come and remember us. I want them to remember that mom and pop stores are for them, too.”

Unlike the other stores, Hopper said the movie theater can offer something to the public for free. Those who bring a toy for Toys for Tots will be given a free drink. She said she would like the free movies to become an annual event.

Hopper has another reason for her generosity. She said times are tough and not everyone can afford to go to the movies.

“I used to be a mom, and now I’m a grandmother,” she said. “I chose the classics because they’re fun.”

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