On Thursday morning Virginia Theatre volunteer Don Waulthier of Champaign appeared outside the theater, in front of the marquee, as he does before every Ebertfest screening.
“Welcome to Ebertfest Day 2,” he tells the crowd of festival pass holders who have gathered to wait for the theater to open,.
He then put them through their paces, doing the same “Q-and-A” he had done the night before to see what they remembered.
“We get to take food into the theater,” one woman yelled, in a joking manner.
“You get to take food into the theater? I don’t think so,” Waulthier responded, with good cheer.
He then asked where they would go if there were a fire in the theater and they were sitting in a certain section. He repeated his answers from the day before.
Then, “Can you save 10 seats for your friends who are going to come by in an hour?”
“No, the crowd replies in unison.
“Can you save your festival seat overnight?”
Then someone complained about the concession stand upstairs not being open the night before, when the 15th annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival opened, with “Days of Heaven.”
Waulthier said he believed that would be fixed, that the Champaign Park District, which operates the theater, is still working out glitches that came with the most recent round of renovations.
A woman then asked what they should do if there were a tornado.
“What do you do? You stay in your seats because it’s built like a fortress,” Waulthier said.
Waulthier told The News-Gazette he hasn’t had any problems with the pass holders who wait in line to snag and save their favorite seats. He said he’s come to recognize 500 or so of them because they return to the festival each year.
Waulthier, who was wearing a festival cap, takes time off from his job at Berns, Clancy and Associates in Urbana to help out at the festival every year.
He calls himself the “ticket line wrangler.”