Monday, March 4, 2024

Did We Almost Lose Our Village Theatre?

Letters to the Editor submitted to The Coronado Times are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher, editors or writers of this publication. Submit letters to [email protected].

Submitted by Brad Willis

A radical group has been seeking to take over one of Coronado’s most iconic landmarks…

The Awaken organization (read “cult”) of San Diego, in its own words, wants to “take territory.” This crusade includes Coronado, where Awaken sought (and thankfully failed) to take over our school board in the last election, is in cahoots with our mayor, and is aggressively seeking to establish a permanent presence in our community.

With what has to be one of the most alarming acts of hubris in local history, Awaken has quietly been trying to acquire our iconic Village Theatre.

Imagine our historic theatre, built in 1947 and restored in 2011 with a $2.675 million grant from our city for the enjoyment of the entire community, becoming the Coronado headquarters of an organization that wants to replace our democracy with a theocracy. The governments of Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia are theocracies. Does this sound good to you?

Awaken is a group that spreads bizarre, discredited conspiracy theories and QAnon diatribes, whose founder and lead pastor posts streams of hate on social media, a group that is growing a paramilitary-style militia of “holy warriors,” and that hosts White Nationalist and Christo-Fascist groups at its San Diego campuses.

Village is the theatre where we go with our children and grandchildren. Where we meet a friend or two. A historic venue that our community cherishes. A place that draws film lovers from around the world for our annual Coronado Island Film Festival.

Village Theatre was acquired in 2016 by a group called 820 Orange Av.LLC, formed with the head of the Chabad of Coronado as its business manager.

820 Orange, by the way, is the address of the theater.

The Chabad reportedly had planned to locate at Village Theatre, but ultimately decided it wasn’t a good move so, thankfully, Village remained a family theater.

Fast forward to this year…

The Chabad now has a new property at 10th and C, and the LLC has been approached about selling the Village Theatre to Awaken. My sources tell me an important roadblock to any deal was that Vintage Cinemas, which runs the movie theater, has three years left to go on its lease and – thank goodness – is unwilling to negotiate an early release.

The news: Awaken was trying to buy Village Theatre, but it seems will not be successful.

Make no mistake. Awaken is playing a long game, and it will continue to search for a permanent venue.

But Wait, There’s More

Recently, Awaken has reportedly been holding “services” at our Coronado Middle School. This is the outside group that tried to promote its own slate of candidates to take over our school board in the last election as part of its plan to impose its twisted theology on public schools throughout the county.

The Middle School is somewhere between a proverbial rock and hard place since it has provided space to mainstream, established Coronado churches in the past.

I can’t think of a better argument for enforcing our separation of church and state as embodied in our Constitution.

And then there’s this…

This image is from Awaken’s recent Emerge Men’s Camp in east county where they show up in cosplay, pose with weapons, and get wild about waging a holy war.

Who wouldn’t want these randos in their community. Right?

If this issue concerns you, please sign our No Cult in Coronado Petition and share your thoughts in the petition comments section. Let your friends in the community know about this. Let our local elected officials know how you feel. Let’s work together to protect our Village Theatre, our public schools, and our community.

Submitted by Brad Willis


Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

More Local News