VALPARAISO | Two iconic statues with connections to the movies were united Sunday afternoon in Central Park Plaza, as fans took turns posing for pictures with them.
Orville Redenbacher, the local king of popcorn whose statue graces the park, played host to Oscar, the most recognized trophy in the movie industry, as part of promotions for the 85th Academy Awards ceremonies Feb. 24 in Los Angeles.
Valparaiso was among the cities visited in the first-ever Oscar Road Trip, a cross-country tour designed to share the magic and fun of the Oscar ceremony with movie fans by giving them a chance to hold an Oscar statuette.
Event spokesman Ben Gleib said Valparaiso seemed like a natural fit for the tour.
“This city has a very natural link to the Oscars,” Gleib said. “It's the popcorn capital of the world and popcorn is an integral part of the movies.”
More than 50 residents and city officials, including Mayor Jon Costas, gathered amid a cold wind and threat of rain to glimpse the official Oscar statue, which will be given away at a future awards ceremony, Gleib said.
In preparation for the event, a red carpet was laid in front of the Orville statue and banners were displayed welcoming Oscar to the city.
Valparaiso resident Katie Lewis, who works for Digital Graphic Solutions in Valparaiso, said she designed the banners on short notice, only learning the tour was coming to Valparaiso on Friday.
Lewis attended the event with her husband, Steve, and children, Keegan, 6, and Taya, 4. She clutched the statue as she posed for pictures with her kids.
“It's extremely heavy,” she said. “It's much heavier than I expected.”
Linda Popovich, manager of the Centier Bank across the street from the park, handed out bags of popcorn to people in the crowd. Popovich said she popped the popcorn in the basement of the bank before coming over.
She thought the turnout was pretty good despite the last minute notice for the event and the inclement weather.
“There are some die-hard fans here,” Popovich said.
Courtney Georgion, of Wanatah, and Scott McGinnis, of Valparaiso, consider themselves just that.
“We watch the Oscars every year and have an Oscar party,” Georgion said.
Photos of the event will be posted on OscarRoadTrip.com and on Twitter at #oscarroadtrip. Local coverage will be posted on the city's Facebook page at facebook.com/ValparaisoNow.