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Commentary: How I survived 24-hours straight of ‘Groundhog Day’

Collin Howard / Lantern reporter

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Throughout the year, there are many holidays that seem random and unnecessary. Take for instance, Multiple Personalities Day, Eggs Benedict Day and National Flashlight Day. However, there are several holidays throughout the year that I participate in and appreciate. I have Jesus to thank for Christmas, the pilgrims for Thanksgiving and now Bill Murray for Groundhog Day.

My greatest accomplishment since passing Spanish last quarter was sitting through 24 hours straight of the film “Groundhog Day” Feb. 2 at Gateway Film Center.

Half of my enjoyment came from watching fellow participants climb their way to a seat in the middle of the aisle. I had to weave past six or seven people, falling on one, before I was able to slide comfortably into my chair.

After about 20 minutes, the lights dimmed and the ambient chatter of the crowd was replaced by an uproarious cheer. The marathon had begun, and boy would it be a bumpy one.

Never having watched the movie prior to the event, I was engaged throughout the entire first showing. We were able to switch theaters in between time slots one and two to a theater that was exactly twice the original size, allowing us to spread out.

The second showing, which started at 2 a.m., was equally engaging for me, but I could see other spectators begin to yawn. It was at this moment I realized what I was in for. I thought, “I just watched this once, how am I going to do it again and again and again?”

The third showing, which started at 4 a.m., was a little harder to sit through — it was like I hit a wall. The audience was much quieter and people were dozing off all around me. It was during this show in which I was able to get my total of 1 1/2 hours of sleep.

Being a college student who typically wakes up anywhere between 9 a.m. and noon on a daily basis, watching a movie at 6 a.m. for the fourth straight time was a little difficult to get through. I tried to sleep but to no avail. The seats might seem comfortable when you go to see a movie, but when you’re sitting there for hours, your posterior starts to go numb and you can’t seem to get your neck in a properly placed position.

The next 12 hours or so, which seemed like a blur, were only sustainable by frequently getting up to stretch and fully taking advantage of our 20 minute breaks to grab some fresh air or an outside bite to eat. There was plenty of food available at the theater, but as you can expect, at a slightly inflated price.

The 10th showing of the day, which started at 6 p.m., was probably tied with the first for easiest to sit through. It was at this point when fresh meat started to come in for single shows, and the ritual laughter from those who had been there all day was met by “real” laughs from people enjoying the film. It was refreshing, to say the least.

The newcomers continued to venture in during the last two showings and the theater looked to be almost full. At this point, the only thing that kept me going was knowing that I had already been there for 20 hours, so what were four more?

I felt bad for the new, paying customers, because over the last day or so, having that many people all living in a confined space, the theater began to emit a distinct odor, somewhat resembling a locker room. I can best describe the scent as a mix between beer, sweat and popcorn. I overheard one individual who came in for the 10 p.m. show say, “Yeah, it’s pretty foul. It smells like cheese.” But for me, it just added to the experience.

Before I knew it, the final show had come and gone and I was standing in line with more than 100 other people for the final time, this time to get my reward: 24 free movie passes. I showed my badge, which had been punched in between each show, and was handed my stack. It was like I had just won the lottery — feeling like a prisoner in solitary confinement for the last day had finally paid off.

As I exited the theater, I looked down at the contents in my hand and was amazed that I just sat in a theater for 24 hours to receive these little rectangular pieces of cardstock that bared the words “Rain Check.” I had to ask myself one question: “Was it worth it?”

Absolutely.

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