Our little river town

Our little river town

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MUSCATINE, Iowa - The show begins.

Fresh sunlight beams across the morning sky, its red and yellow rays cast shadows upon this Iowa town seated on the banks of the Mississippi. Slowly, the sun rises, inch by inch, until it reaches full bloom across Muscatine's cloudless sky.

As Chad Bishop rounds a Lucas Street corner, a small group of people follow him with a camera, recording his every stride.

He follows Houser Street, turns right and runs down Mulberry Avenue. He continues running a loop around Muscatine while the camera crew follows.

Bishop, aware of the camera and the photographers, continues to run. Fourteen miles later, he finishes. The camera crew puts the lens cap back on and prepares to edit the footage, which must be ready in less than a week.

Finally, several days later, the footage is ready to be mailed out.

Bishop was one of several Muscatine residents showcasing the city's history, people and places in a WQPT documentary, "Our Kind of Town: Muscatine," which airs on WQPT at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Thursday.

"The documentary depicts a real human look at what the city is like," said Lora Adams, WQPT marketing director/producer. "It captures the heart and soul of Muscatine and less about the building and industrial aspects of the city."

During a private premiere, which was held Thursday night at the Muscatine Art Center, the volunteers watched the program and were pleased with the final outcome.

"I thought it was great," Luana Gredell said Thursday. "It's a true perception of Muscatine and the turnout of volunteers shows the city's pride."

Becky Garcia said her favorite part of the program were the scenes along the river.

Garcia's family, from Monterey, Mexico, recently visited Muscatine for the first time. Garcia said her family loved and enjoyed the river during their stay.

"They couldn't get enough of the river," she said, laughing.

Robert Ward and Brad Hansen, recent graduates of Muscatine High School, added their own youthful touch to the program.

During their segment, their jokes and personalities added flavor and spice to the production.

Muscatine residents Norm and Marilyn Smith's vignette featured four areas: Pearl Button Museum, 4-H dog show, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and a Jackson Concert Series rehearsal.

Norm's experience was not only rewarding, but a learning one.

"The relationship between the two was interesting," Norm Smith said. "The Big Brothers/Big Sisters program was something I did not know much about, but learned more as I videotaped."

The Smiths have been active in producing films and documentaries for 10 years.

"It was natural for us," Norm Smith said. "We wanted to show off the community."

Like the Smiths, Connie Armstrong wanted to showcase Muscatine's assets.

"I think there are lot of special things and special people here and it provided an opportunity to show off the good things in Muscatine," Armstrong said.

Other segments highlighted the city's academic and night life.

After finishing his run around the city, Bishop, a media production technician at Muscatine Community College, turned the cameras on Misty Taylor, a MCC student.

"I wanted to tie her life into the community," Bishop said. "I followed her to student senate meetings, a car wash benefit, class and Bootleggers, a local bar and grill. I wanted to capture how her academic life spilled over into her social life."

The hour-long documentary rolls video segments of Muscatine and interviews with the volunteers all into one.

"It's remarkable to see what the volunteers have done," Adams said. "Soup to nuts - its all covered."

Old sunlight beams across the evening sky, its red and yellow rays cast shadows upon this Iowa town seated on the banks of the Mississippi. Slowly, the sun sets, inch by inch, until its bloom closes and slips beneath the horizon.

Mark Twain once said, "I remember Muscatine for its summer sunsets. I have never seen any on either side of the ocean which equaled them."

The show ends.

Sarah Passick can be reached at 563-263-2331 (ext. 322) or e-mail at sarah.passick@muscatinejournal.com

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