1978 Walk-a-Thon Funds Makes AHS Performing Arts Center Possible

$100,000 raised by Arcadia Auditorium Foundation decades covered the remainder of the bill for AHS's new state-of-art theater.

More than 30 years after they raised tens of thousands of dollars to build a community theater, the founders of the Arcadia Auditorium Foundation will finally have their dream realized.

The $25 million Performing Arts Center at will open this fall.

The construction of the Center may have been delayed longer than its benefators wanted, but the venue will also be more elaborate than they had hoped for.

Joe Sargis, one of the original founders of the Arcadia Auditorium Foundation, says that the group generated more than $60,000 in 1977-78, most of it from a single fundraising event dubbed the “Jog-A-Walk-Atorium.”

Despite that early success, the Foundation could not generate enough support to make the theater a reality. But, the dream never died completely. The Foundation hung on for more than 15 years, generating a cumulative $105,000 in interest on the money raised in 1977-78.

Meanwhile, the group donated grants totaling more than $62,000 for music programs at Arcadia schools.

The Foundation was dissolved in 1993, but its founders, including former Mayor Charles Gilb, pressed on. The remaining funds were given to the , which placed $100,000 of the Foundation's gift in a trust accessible only to build an auditorium, Sargis said.

During the intervening years, there was little hope of the auditorium ever being built, though the Foundation’s generosity was nonetheless appreciated.

And now, about 35 years later, there is finally a most fitting happy ending.

In 2006, voters passed a school construction bond, Measure I, which covered the bulk of the new auditorium's construction costs: The Arcadia Auditorium Foundation Trust covered the remaining $100,000.

Read more on this topic by Scott Hettrick and a detailed summary of the evolution of the Auditorium Foundation written by Joe Sargis at ArcadiasBest.com.

Hettrick's City Views blog is not intended to reflect any position of the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, where he is Executive Director.


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