By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(Aug. 22, 2019) Residents and visitors have two more chances to take a free “Runaway Bride” guided walking tour in Berlin next week.
Earlier this month, Ivy Wells, Berlin director of community and economic development, added a second tour to the weekly event because of the high demand generated by the celebration of the movie’s 20th anniversary.
“It just goes to show this movie touches a lot of people’s hearts,” Wells said.
In the film, Richard Gere plays a journalist who tracks down a bride, Julia Roberts, who has become notorious for leaving her grooms at the altar.
Wells said there’s been an average of 50 people who’ve attended the tours sponsored by the Gulyas family.
“They’re more popular than we expected,” Wells said.
People can have their pictures taken with cardboard cutouts of Roberts and Gere at a photo station. The selfie station is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the center on 14 S. Main St.
Tour Guide Mary Raley of Ocean Pines took a moment to greet the crowd of tourgoers wearing a wedding veil.
“Hi everyone. Welcome to Berlin. I mean to Hale,” Raley said.
The fictional town’s name is drawn from the late Berlin nurseryman G. Hale Harrison and the Hale Harrison Brilliant Peach grown by the Harrison Brothers orchards and nurseries from the turn of the century to the 1960s.
Area residents and visitors showed up to the Berlin Welcome Center for the 4 p.m. tour.
“I didn’t realize it was filmed here,” Idaho resident Holly Weaver said.
Others said they heard about the tour from the newspaper and social media.
Ocean Pines resident Barbara Shotwell said she was looking forward to the tour.
Raley began with a brief introduction about what people could expect from the roughly 45-minute tour of the town. She planned to show some of the landmarks featured in the film, including the Atlantic Hotel, Rayne’s Reef or the “Falcon Diner,” and Robert’s house on Baker Street.
Raley said the entire film was shot in Maryland, including the football scenes, which were shot at Snow Hill High School.
As tour participants took a stroll along Main Street, they observed that shops featured in the movie had posters in the windows, and wedding bows adorned the town’s lampposts.
A fan of the film herself, Raley said she loves sharing the movie’s history with others.
“I know the history of the town and I just think it was so wonderful that we were chosen and that it was a fun time, a great time and it really put us on the map,” she said.
Raley also took a moment to share an anecdote in front of Victorian Charm, which was the wedding dress shop in the film.
“Here’s something interesting that nobody knows: the gal who owns this store, Debbie [Frene], actually dated Richard Gere’s bodyguard for a short time,” Raley said. “She’s married now, but not to the bodyguard.”
Selbyville resident Cindy Giddings said she enjoyed it.
“I thought it was very interesting, and I really learned a lot, and it brought back a lot of memories,” she said.
Additionally, there are numerous ways “Runaway Bride” lovers can celebrate the monumental anniversary.
Patrons of the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum can learn more about the “Runaway Bride” era in Berlin through photo albums, newspaper clippings and memorabilia on display this month in the Harrison Room to get a better sense of what the town looked like 20 years ago. For more information, visit the museum on 208 N. Main St. in Berlin.
Fans can also participate in a 25-question movie trivia game. Contestants with 10 correct answers would be eligible for a free one-night stay at the Atlantic Hotel on Main Street. Completed trivia papers should be submitted to a collection box in the welcome center’s vestibule by Aug. 31.
Wells said winners would be announced on Sept. 4.
The townwide bash will culminate with the Berlin Arts and Entertainment Committee’s showing of Runaway Bride at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday at the intersection of Jefferson and Main streets. Wells said Jefferson Street would close for the event.
Robin Tomaselli, vice president of the Arts and Entertainment Committee, which is hosting the event, said guests could participate in a wedding-themed costume contest with prizes awarded to the best-dressed man, woman and child. A parade on Jefferson Street is also planned.
“It’s a good way to celebrate the movie, to celebrate the history of Berlin … and it should be a fun free event for people of all ages,” Tomaselli said in a July interview.
Tomaselli also said moviegoers could sit in style with cafe table and chairs for $40. It includes light fare, a beverage and a piece of wedding cake. Proceeds benefit the Berlin Arts and Entertainment Committee.
For more information, visit Berlin’s Arts and Entertainment Committee’s website at artsinberlin.org.
The last guided tours will take place at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 26. Those interested in attending should call 410-629-1716 to register.