FREEBIRD... THE MOVIE
As a special thank you for the years of hometown devotion Jacksonville has shown the Lynyrd Skynyrd band, the Freebird Foundation presented a free screening of Freebird... The Movie Thursday, September 5, 1996 at the Florida Theater. This special showing was invitation only and was limited to 1000 guests. To try and make the awarding of the invitations as fair and as varied as possible, the Foundation sponsored a drawing for the tickets. The response to the contest was exceptional. It seemed like everyone who won a ticket or was invited SHOWED UP!! We had a packed house and Jacksonville's fans did themselves proud.
The Freebird Foundation, Inc. also conducted the Third Annual Freebird Foundation Auction before the premiere. Our past auctions have included hundreds of items from hundreds of artists -- ranging from Madonna to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. This year's auction offered a select number of items from Lynyrd Skynyrd. Our past auctions have been to raise money for the Freebird Foundation, Inc.'s various activities, this year's was smaller and designed to primarily recoup our expenses in putting on this special Homecoming Screening. We auctioned off several items related to Freebird... The Movie including Judy VanZant's personal copy of the film's script complete with her edit suggestions, an "official" production jacket and some posters and cds autographed by the current Skynyrd band. Perhaps the most popular item of the night was the guitar autographed by Gary, Billy, Artimus, Leon and Melody, Corrina and Amie, with two gold records coming a close second. The auction raised nearly 10,000 dollars -- just about enough to cover the Foundation's expenses.
Many of Skynyrd's Jacksonville fans took advantage of the opportunity to see the treasures we had on display including Allen Collins' Gibson Explorer, Ronnie VanZant's jacket from the cover of the Street Survivors album, Steve Gaines' black Les Paul, and much, much more. Just like in Atlanta, this display never failed to impress the fans.
Just prior to the film's showing, Florida's Secretary of State, Sandra Mortham, presented Judy and Artimus with a proclamation certifying September 6, 1996 as Lynyrd Skynyrd Day in Florida. This honor meant a great deal to everyone concerned and capped a long tradition of awards and proclamations honoring Skynyrd through the band's long career.
This special screening of Freebird... The Movie will be sure to go down as one of the most special events in Skynyrd's long history.