Memories at the Riv

Have a fond memory of the Riv?

Please share it with us today.


For some 25 plus years, my late partner Alan Lowry & I would travel to North Tonawanda, quite frequently, to attend the most wonderful organ concerts & silent movie evenings. The sing alongs were always memorable. I’m so proud that the group as continued on, after all these years. From what I am seeing, it’s even BETTER!!!! I’m proud of those who give of time & talent to keep the Riv alive. WURLITZER & THE RIV – FOREVER !!! I remember so many wonderful people, Randy Piazza (I hope I didn’t misspell his name too badly), amongst many. I am planning on joining the Riv again, and get to as many concerts as I can. I can’t remember the restaurant across the street, but sometimes, we’d go there for a sundae, or something. I remember seeing many reel to reel tape recorders up in the balcony – & if memory serves me right, I think it were plugs, that we attached to the microphones, located about the chambers. What wonderful memories of some of the most wonderful people!!!!.
-Rick A., Barrie ON, Canada

When I was 5 years old I remember going with a group of neighbor friends to the Riviera to see the animated movie Mad Monster Party in 1967. We had a great time. As we were leaving the theater, I remembered I had left my hat back in the seats and ran back to get it. By the time I got outside my group was gone. I wandered up and down the sidewalk lost and crying. Luckily, a woman helped me find my group and I was safe again. I never realized how many more times I would return to the Riviera for concerts and movies over the the years. I would later bring my children there and we always made sure we left with our hats! Now my eldest son works at the theater as Design Specialist and I couldn’t be more proud! So much history and so many memories of this crown jewel of Webster Street that spans generations. Hats off to “The Riv”!.
-David H., Phoenix AZ

In the late 70’s/early 80’s, my father, Richard Volk was introduced to Randy Piazza who at the time was working hard to keep the theatre alive. We started coming on Saturday mornings to help out. I was young so my duties were cleaning and polishing with Billy around the organ and back stage. We both worked as stage hands at the Wed night organ concerts. One time an organist who was a priest and general funny guy came to play. He was a regular. Sorry, I cant remember his name at the moment but we came up with the idea I would dress up in my church Acolite robes and carry the name and intermission cards across the stage. He didn’t know, and when he saw me he laughed so hard and then smiling he reprimanded me for wearing sneakers with my outfit. It was a fun night all around and always remember it..
-Kyle V., West Seneca NY

My first movie was Swiss Family Robinson in about 1962 on Thanksgiving Day when I was 10 and my brothers 8 and 7 ! Our parents wanted to keep us occupied for a few hours and decided we were old enough to go by ourselves. That would never happen today, but back then in small, safe North Tonawanda it was a day I will never forget!!!.
-Jane G., Tonawanda NY

My fondest memory of the Rivera is when I was a child I used to walk to the Rivera with my cousins on Saturday afternoons to watch Horror Films. Those were great times! Being in the theater with a bunch of loud rowdy kids having the time of our lives. Thanks for the memories..
-Mary Ann S., Tonawanda NY

Very shortly before my mother passed away, we saw the play “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Riviera. As we were waiting for the play to start, the couple sitting in front of us began to bicker. Suddenly people came running down the aisles and leaping over the tops of the seats! The bickering couple jumped up, they all ran onto the stage, and the play began! What an intro! The play was fantastic and my parents and I enjoyed it so much. It is a wonderful memory..
-Christine R., North Tonawanda NY

My first memory was going to see the Weird Al Yankovic concert in 1996 with my friends. Our seats were up in the balcony and it was a really fun experience. Not a very romantic sounding memory like others might have. But I did fall in love with the history of the place and the mystery and character and atmosphere the 1926 building has..
-Gary R., West Seneca NY

As a young man, my grandparents and my mother brought me to see the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams shortly after the theatre was saved by ‘the organ club’. Having has the pleasure of supporting the live events for the past 5 or 6 years, it is my honor to serve as the Director of Operations. I keep thinking back to the slogan of that movie ‘If you Build it, they will come!’ I think that organ crew knew what they were doing! They saved it, and all of you have come! Thanks for all of the great memories you will help to create!.
-Jim P., Tonawanda NY

My memories at the Riv date all the way back from when I was just around 8 years old. My mother sang in the Festival Chorus & Orchestra concerts when they were held there. Upon entering the theatre, my brother and I would immediately head down towards the orchestra pit, where the percussion instruments for the WurtliTzer were at the time. We could watch those marimbas play for hours. Christmas concerts would feature ‘snowflakes’ projected onto the walls, which also were fascinating to me. Who knew I would end up having the pleasure to light the very same stage someday – sometimes using the same snowflake effect for holiday shows. There’s no doubt my many experiences at the Riv as a child would inspire me to do what I love today! I hope the Riv will continue to provide that ‘spark’ of imagination and inspiration for years to come..
-Derek H., Buffalo NY


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