"Bachelor" films on Main Street

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MANCHESTER — Manchester reveled in its moment before the television cameras this week on Main Street, where crews for the ABC reality show "The Bachelor" filmed the opening segment for their spin-off production "Bachelor: Winter Games."

"It's pretty exciting when something this big comes to a little town like this," said Chip Edson, owner of the local Flying Cow Signs. "Any exposure is good for a town of this size, and I think it will be awesome seeing it on television."

Edson was one of dozens of area residents who turned out on Main Street to participate in the shoot, which featured a colorful parade through downtown Manchester. That parade will kick off the "Winter Games" spin-off, which will be filmed somewhere in Vermont though a location has not been announced. The segment will air on ABC in February.

Students from Burr and Burton Academy, whose cinematography department has worked closely with both ITVFest and the Vermont Production Council, were among the participants in the production.

"We had quite a day," said Bill Muench, the cinematography teacher who organized students with creative arts faculty member Jim Raposa. Vermont Production Council member Philip Gilpin Jr. connected the student group with assistant directors for "The Bachelor," said Muench.

"Once that connection was made, they realized that BBA could be one-stop shopping for a lot of the things that they needed for the parade," Muench said.

BBA students and faculty members participated in the parade, and many carried banners alongside former "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" participants.

As many of the students are affiliated with the school's cinematography and performing arts programs, the real-time experience provided them a look at the work behind a television production.

"Students see people filming, doing sound and setting up staging, so they gain a better understanding of how television and movies are made," Muench said. "They also learned that behind the scenes, reality isn't reality. It makes them more intelligent consumers of media."

The production stands to provide national exposure for Manchester.

"We showed that Manchester could support this," Muench said. "It dropped a ton of cash here; what a great thing for the town."

Crew members also patronized local stores, restaurants and hotels according to Muench.

"It brings a lot of energy to town, and helps promote Manchester as a tourist destination," said state Rep. Brian Keefe who participated in the parade. "When this show is broadcast ... people will see what a wonderful town and what a vibrant community we have here."

Sam Johnson, owner of Sam's Wood Fired Pizza Co., also took to the streets for the parade.

"It's fun, and it's good to see some activity during a quiet time in town," he said. "You can see the people out here having a good time, trying to be famous, and it's great for local businesses."

While many participants found themselves swept up in the excitement and glamour of the parade, some hoped to see more productions film in the region — a goal of the Vermont Production Council.

"It really helps put Manchester on the map," said Nicole Mills, an author whose office overlooks Main Street. "I think more productions will want to start coming here, which is exciting."

The occasion also provided Town Manager John O'Keefe the opportunity to explore the logistics of bringing a major production to downtown Manchester.

"It was a little bit of an experiment for us," O'Keefe said. "The timing was good, being in early December and on a Monday and Tuesday. This is probably on the higher end of interruption for the community."

From early Monday morning into early Tuesday afternoon, Main Street was closed to automobile traffic from the roundabout at Main and Bonnet streets to Memorial Avenue. Tuesday, Memorial Avenue was closed from Main Street to the public parking lot near the field at Manchester Elementary and Middle School. Both streets reopened early Tuesday afternoon.

Through Manchester's new special events permitting process, the police chief is responsible for issuing permits for road closings, according to O'Keefe. In addition to the cost of the permits, approximately $500, the town was reimbursed for extra equipment, primarily signs, and labor costs for the police and public works departments.

In total, the production paid the town approximately $8,000, O'Keefe said.

"We recovered the cost that we had into it essentially," said O'Keefe. "There were definitely some traffic concerns and some safety concerns, so we did have extra police presence."

While the town did receive some complaints from business owners on Main Street inconvenienced by the road closing, O'Keefe said he hopes the exposure from the filming will benefit them in the long term.

"Any time that you have an event like this, it brings new people to town and possibly repeat business," he said. "For a community that thrives on importing visitors and residents, it seems like the net benefit outweighs the inconvenience."

The town will be reaching out to business owners after this, according to O'Keefe. Timing is everything when it comes to bringing special events to Manchester, he added.

"With events like this and the sports tournaments we've been hosting, it's nice that we can schedule them for times that aren't as busy," O'Keefe said. "I'd have a much different view if it was Fourth of July weekend."

Reach Cherise Madigan at cmadigan@manchesterjournal.com, or by phone at 802-490-6471.

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