For the past few years, Brian Woulfe has been partnering with the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Fred Astaire and Danny Kaye to wish friends and family happy holidays. This year, the Oak Park resident will add Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood to his list of holiday merrymakers.
Brian, a self-proclaimed “cancer warrior” has successfully battled the deadly disease for more than a decade. The ever positive-thinking father of three and volunteer soccer coach of many wanted to thank members of the community who have befriended and helped his family.
So he created “Brian Woulfe’s Annual Classic Holiday Movie Event,” where he rents out the Lake Theatre one Sunday during December each year and invites guests to view an old-fashioned holiday movie. This year’s showing will take place on Dec. 14.
Ben Weinberg, with his wife Lisa Morrow and sons, Eli and Leo, has attended every event and looks forward to the annual gathering. “It’s a wonderful event; they are wonderful people, and it’s a great way to return the favor to the community by treating them to a truly special morning,” he said.
Weinberg said it’s also the first time he has seen the classic old-time movies on the big screen. “And it’s the first time my sons have seen It’s A Wonderful Life and White Christmas, and this year will be the first time they have seen Miracle on 34th Street.
Marines are on hand in full regalia to collect toy donations for the Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys For Tots. Brian’s wife, Nancy, a breast cancer survivor/warrior herself, bakes hundreds of homemade “M&M” cookies, which she hands out to each guest. Sons Patrick, a freshman at Auburn, and David and Michael, both at Oak Park and River Forest High School, pitch in as well.
Woulfe works with Classic Cinema’s Downers Grove office to secure a classic movie. “It’s very hard to get these kinds of movies because there just aren’t that many prints available,” said general manager Jim Boughamer. And it is just as rare to find a theater showing them. “The theater schedules are devoted to showing the holiday blockbusters,” Boughamer explains. “It would be almost impossible to do a public running like this.”
“We have groups who rent the theater but he’s the only individual,” said Boughamer. “It’s really special, and his guests seem to really enjoy it.”