KIDDY SHOWS THRIVE ON SURPRISES AND GOOD TIMES'
Program of Manos Theatres Fun Shows Loaded With Gifts and Stage Contests
Many children in four Pennsylvania
towns in the Pittsburgh area have become
year-around theatregoers once more, won
away from their TV cowboys at least once
a week by good times in which they may
take part at Monessen Amusement Co.
theatres. Known as Vacation Fun
shows, the children's matinees are held
each Wednesday morning during summer
vacation and on Saturday mornings during
the school term.
The F\in shows were started last summer
and have been continuous in Monessen
Amusement theatres in these four western
Pennsylvania towns: Elwood City, population,
12,945; Indiana, 11,743; Monessen,
17,896; Uniontown, 20,471.
A typical Vacation Fim show consists of.
a Film Library picture, such as a Lassie
film, three cartoons and a comedy, along
with two or more stage contests among
youngsters chosen from the audience,
winners receiving theatre passes and worthwhile
prizes promoted from town merchants.
A major prize, such as a bicycle,
Davy Crockett outfit, etc., is awarded
weekly. Over one period of seven weeks, for
instance, a Monessen theatre awarded a
bicycle each of the first six weeks and a
$300 power-driven Eshleman Sports Car for
children the seventh week.
"We believe the success of our Vacation
Fun shows is due to the fact that we have a
program loaded with surprises and varied
entertainment," said Joseph F. Bugala.
Monessen general manager. "The shows
have been very successful in our circuit
with regards to cultivating the theatre
habit among small fry."
On most of the Vacation Pun shows,
Monessen managers include contests with
prizes promoted from local merchants.
Manos Theatre Fun Club
1955 SEASON CARD
This is a reproduction of the Fun Club membership
cords. Printed on bristol, the over-oil
meosurement is 3?ix4'54 inches. Note the perforotion
which allows separation into two ports,
one for the young member and the other for
the theatre file.
Bud Fike of the Manos Theatre
Fun Club to children in the lobby.
Contestants are chosen from the audience
by numbers on ticket stubs, usually six to
ten children taking part in each contest
such as pie-eating races, baUoon-blowing,
cracker-eating, mixed-up crazy shoes,
watermelon eating and many others devised
by alert managers. Details of ten of these
contests appear on the opposite page.
"We always try to keep our shows interesting
with the elements of surprise
and variety," explains Bugala. "In July we
even had Santa Claus stroll down the aisle
without previous announcement." Santa
then went up on the stage and presided
over a surprise "Christmas in July" program
by giving away presents promoted
from a local toy shop. One theatre of the
circuit had sold its Christmas show by the
end of October.
More happy sui-prises among the youngsters
also are created by such a stunt as
taping passes under seats scattered
throughout the auditorium. The emcee
suddenly will call for a "seventh-inning
stretch" during the stage show, advising the
kids to look under the seats. Dropping
balloons bearing passes from the ceiling
another stunt that keeps the kids alert.
Ushers in one of the Monessen theatres
have added to the fun by wearing huge
papier-mache heads of Bugs Bunny, Tom
and Jerry and suitable costumes. The
heads are three feet high and sit on top
of the shoulders. The ushers have worked
out a dance routine wearing these costumes
which they perfoi-m on the stage during the
giveaway portion of the Fun show.
"We found pet giveaway shows to be
the most successful of all our programs,"
continued Bugala. "Although it is not
really a show, we found that the word
'show' added glamor to the program,
which tied in with a five and ten-cent
Is pictured handing memberships in the Vacation
store. A typical pet show Includes such
awards as 25 bowls of goldfish, pet tui'tles,
bunnies and three or four parakeets. The
kids are advised to buy their accessories
from the sponsoring merchants."
Other special shows popular with the
kids included a Lassie program, with a
collie pup promoted from a local pet shop
and given away as the top award, and kiddy
spook shows—The Three Stooges in
"Spooks," a Casper cartoon, and "The
Bowery Boys Meet the Monster," with a
local magician doing tricks on the stage as
an added treat.
Popular giveaways have included three
reconditioned TV sets promoted by one
Monessen manager from his local TV shop
Here is a sample of the letter mailed to Fun
Club members on their birthdays. A proper membership
file will enable the cashier to handle
— 126 — BOXOFFICE Showmandiser : : May