IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Neon Movies

When an 1845 CINCINNATI CHRONICLE article described Dayton, Ohio “…it may be fairly said that Dayton is the gem of all our interior towns…”, there seemed to be little effort to prove that title over the following one-hundreds years when the city knew no bounds as to the lingering impact it would bring the world.

One-hundred seventy-seven years later, I still find remarkable jewels that are embedded in the Miami Valley’s diadem that maintain The Gem City’s sparkle. The Neon movie theatre is one of my favorite gems.

In 1994, I went to The Neon with some friends to see a movie and I felt no connection to the iconic business. I didn’t return again until around 2004 to see the romantic heart-tugger, LADIES IN LAVENDER, and a bit later, EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED. By this time, Neon’s manager, Jonathan McNeal, was at the helm, creating a marvelous atmosphere and giving patrons few excuses why they should not visit The Neon quite often.

From 2000 to 2018, I was busy as a single dad and occasionally visited The Neon when I wanted to be a bit selfish and not include The Sons and their friends. We generally went to movies at The Greene and Danbury South to see movies more to their liking. However, occasionally, they’d join me at The Neon.

The game-changer of my becoming a regular visitor was the summer of 2018 when RGB was released. I saw the movie and returned six more times before someone explained I could actually own the movie! I won’t go into the reasons, now, but RGB had a tremendous impact on me. Then, I saw WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? five times at The Neon.

Throughout 2019, following the sudden death of my younger brother in February, and then my mother’s death six months later, the day after Dayton’s mass shooting, The Neon became a sanctuary where I discovered ways to heal through cinematic art.

And, then, the covid quarantine arrived in March 2020, and my severe need to keep my distance from the world kept me away from The Neon for eighteen months. With a brilliant stroke of possibilities, Neon’s offerings became available online. I was grateful for the opportunity to continue watching The Neon’s selections but I missed the atmosphere and the attentive, dedicated staff.

Now, I am back to regular visitations, often seeing movies several times with different guests. Tonight, I returned to see THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN for the second time in six days and recently saw THE DUKE, three times, along with DOWNTON ABBEY, ANYTHING GOES, and a number of others. Next week, it will be MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS.

I love The Neon’s nice mix of casual with a balanced touch of class and how the guests are always treated like the stars on the most fashionable red carpet. The Neon truly is one solid gem right here in Dayton, Ohio, and that gem only gets brighter and more sparkly.

Thank you, Jonathan and Crew!

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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