Long Beach's only movie theater opened Wednesday for the first time in the nearly three years since superstorm Sandy flooded the lobby and shut it down.
About a dozen families and children walked into the Long Beach Cinemas 4 on East Park Avenue for the 12:15 p.m. showing of "Inside Out." The lobby was filled with the aroma of popcorn and the sounds of a Pixar short feature.
Adele Arkin, 39, of Long Beach, bought tickets to the first showing with her 8-year-old daughter, Maya. She said she was heading to Rockville Centre but took a chance that the Long Beach theater might be open.
"I was sad it took so long to open, but I'm glad to see it's coming back to life and giving the community somewhere to go," Arkin said. "With the theater closed on this corner location, it said we're not ready. But now we're ready and we're coming back."
The closed theater had become a symbol to Long Beach residents of the slow recovery from Sandy after the October 2012 storm hit the barrier island from both the ocean and bay sides.
Reopening the four-screen facility has been beset by delays with deadlines unmet and opening dates pushed back. Theater owner Seth Pilevsky with Manhattan-based Philips International has said the storm flooded the entire theater. Repairing the damage required replacing seats, screens, floors, walls and a collapsed roof.
Officials held a "soft opening" Wednesday with showings of "Ted 2" and "Terminator Genisys" in standard and 3-D as well as "Inside Out." Theater management had said they hoped to open last weekend, but were delayed connecting computer systems and cash registers.
Anticipation for the theater has been growing since the long-blank marquee was changed last month to advertise hiring of about a dozen employees.
A grand opening and ribbon-cutting is planned for next week.
"I've told people when you see films on the marquee, it means we're open. Word-of-mouth is always huge," theater manager Paula Lewis said. "It feels wonderful to be open. We're so grateful for the city's support."
City Councilman Anthony Eramo said the opening is another sign of Long Beach's recovery.
"My wife and I are looking forward to taking our kids to the Long Beach theater for the first time since Sandy," Eramo said.
Tickets can be purchased at the box office or the theater's website Longbeachcinema4.com. For more information theater goers can call 516-431-2400