The announcement of the belated 2005 induction class to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame brings back fond memories for many people who enjoyed the music of the 16 groups to be enshrined.

It carries some area residents back to the days when we jitter-bugged to “Come Go With Me” by the Del Vikings, or pounded out the beat on the steering wheel as The Angels blasted “My Boyfriend’s Back” on the radio. And how many times did The Spaniels send us home from a dance with “Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight”?

But as it carries us back in time to the “good ol’ days,” we have to wonder what the future holds for the Hall and the project the non-profit group is determined to complete — renovation of the Columbia Theatre.

Through the efforts of Sharon Mayor Bob Lucas, a committee of local business people and advisers has been assembled to determine what can be done to help the Hall of Fame generate enough money to maintain itself and also to restore the theater.

While time has made the songs performed by the Hall inductees “oldies, but goodies” the same can’t be said for the Columbia. Time and weather have been hard on the old girl. The once majestic structure suffered severe smoke and water damage during a fire at a neighboring building in January 1981.

Since then it has been an uphill climb to restore the theater. But while a lack of funds has been a major problem, there is one other big problem currently faced by the Hall President Bob Crosby and Tony Butala, the driving force behind the renovation. That’s perception — a perception that restoration of the Columbia is folly.

Such thoughts are understandable. In 25 years, various efforts have died. Several community volunteers who donated time and effort to serving on a Columbia board of directors have come and gone. A rift concerning the Hall of Fame museum and former financial backer, James E. Winner Jr., soured some people.

Currently the Hall is hanging by a shoestring. The 2004 induction ceremony was held in Wildwood, N.J., because that state reportedly came up with $200,000 to put on the event. Crosby is hoping the sale of the video on PBS programming will help bring in money to the Hall, but that is still delayed because editing on the video isn’t completed.

Crosby predicted that if the Columbia is reopened and the Hall of Fame inductees begin to perform concerts here, it could turn into “another Branson.” While we doubt it could reach that level, there is no doubt that spinoff from the Hall’s events could spark new growth in downtown Sharon.

It costs $10,000 a month to maintain the unrestored theater and the foundation is $250,000 in debt, said Crosby, who, with director Tracy Rogers, has not received a paycheck since he started working for the foundation.

If Mayor Lucas and the new committee can develop plans to spark the opening of the Columbia and the neighboring former Phoenix building, which will house the Hall of Fame Museum, it could parallel the rebirth of downtown Sharon.

We hope that Mayor Lucas is able to get state financial help as well through new Rep. Mark Longietti.

And if the Columbia were to reopen, as the new inductee Chiffons once sang, that would be “One Fine Day.”

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