BROWNSVILLE — Brownsville is known year-round as the setting of the coming-of-age movie “Stand By Me.”
But from now on, fans can celebrate that fact on one particular day of the year, every year.
The Brownsville Chamber of Commerce is marking July 23 as its official Stand By Me Day, and will have its first official celebration in recognition of that fact this year.
Previous celebrations honoring the 1986 Rob Reiner movie, which turned Brownsville into the fictional town of Castle Rock and used several Brownsville residents as extras, have been held at various times during the summer since 2007.
But Linda McCormick, who’s chairing this year’s event, said Brownsville is taking a page out of the Astoria playbook. The coastal Oregon town now has an annual “Goonies Day” for fans to gather in celebration of that movie, released in 1985.
July 23 is a Tuesday, which could make for a low-key celebration the first few years, McCormick acknowledged. Organizers wanted to keep the date consistent and are expecting a big celebration in 2016, the 30th anniversary of the movie’s release, when the event lands on a Saturday.
That said, “Stand By Me” fans are dedicated, so McCormick said this year may be crowded, too.
For instance, she said, event organizers embedded a 1959 penny in the road outside City Hall marked with the initials, “SBM,” a nod to the penny picked up by the character of Vern Tessio. That disappeared earlier this year, probably because the sealant finally wore away.
“We put in a new one. I posted a picture on the Facebook page that a new penny had been put in,” McCormick said. “Within 24 hours we had about 49,000 people who had seen the picture. Is that insane?”
One of the people, she later told The Times of Brownsville, was “Stand By Me” star Wil Wheaton himself, who shared the photo and told people to make a stop in Brownsville.
Fans are invited to come in costume, meet up at the Hospitality Room at the American Legion Post 184, have a “Side by Side” blueberry pancake breakfast at the Brownsville Saloon (minors allowed till noon), take a trivia quest, go on a “Stand By Me” walking tour (maps available at the Legion) and view the collection of memorabilia from the filming in the Pioneer Picture Gallery.
Discounts will be available at select businesses with the proper secret code, available from the Hospitality Room.
Scott Smith of LB Productions is inviting people to audition to perform scenes from the movie. DVDs will be available of the performances.
More information is available on the group’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/events/611821508841637/.
Many fans, McCormick said, “know the script forwards and backwards. It’s insane. They just pick it up and they go.”
Based on a Stephen King novella titled “The Body,” the movie was filmed in 1985 and released a year later. It tracks the adventures of four young boys in a small rural town on a search for the corpse of a child killed by a passing train. The journey gives them opportunities to learn about each other and themselves.
McCormick said she thinks people flock to the annual celebrations because the movie resonates with their own childhood memories.
Fans like coming as close as they can to the experience they love, she said. One once told her, “Imagine being able to jump into your favorite book or movie. Or like Mary Poppins, jump into a painting.”
“There’s something about being a part of it,” McCormick said.