As you drive through Coconut Grove these days, you'll notice all the trees are festooned with yellow ribbons. No, it's not in honor of a fallen war hero and it has nothing to do with the trees. It's to bring awareness to a protest happening on Monday, April 2, called, "Give it Back!" It's all regarding the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Houses sport yellow signs that yell out, "Give it Back!" and people around town are wearing yellow rubber bracelets that proclaim the same sentiment.
The Coconut Grove Playhouse Board of Directors was freely given and accepted official ownership and responsibility for the Playhouse in 2004 by the State of Florida. Since that time, it had been run into the ground. It closed, finally, in 2006, in financial ruin. Lucie Arnaz's play, Sonja Flew was the last play to be performed, and the sets are still sitting on the stage, full of dust. The Playhouse has been shuttered since April 2006. The Playhouse opened in 1926 as part of Paramount Picture's movie chain. It changed from a movie house to live theater in the 1950s. Waiting for Godot, opened there on January 3, 1956, staring Bert Lahr and Tom Ewell. It was an economic engine for Coconut Grove for all those years through 2006.
Now a bunch of Grovites have come together and declared war including, Grove Ambassador Louis Del Borrello, shown here. The goal is to bring 1,000 people to the Playhouse parking lot on April 2 and show a large sign of support, which will hopefully cause something to happen in the way of renovation.
Grove civic leader, Mel Meinhardt points out:
The long vacant Playhouse has become an increasing haven for drug use, a civic and business eyesore and a target for mounting vandalism and an ever-growing drain on the precious public safety resources. Give it back to the arts, give it back to heritage, give it back to the community, give it back to our children, give it back to business vitality, give it back to Miami and for heaven's sake, let's give it back to Coconut Grove!
Everyone is welcome and the goal is to have as many people as possible. This is where you can help. This is a call to action. The "Give It Back" gathering will take place on Monday, April 2, 2012 at the Playhouse (3500 Main Highway) from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Please just show up! The goal is to attract 1,000 people or more to make a huge statement.
Keep up with the story in the Coconut Grove Grapevine, the daily news of Coconut Grove.