Family and friends of Ron “Ronzo” Shapiro gathered at the Powerhouse on Friday evening to celebrate his life with music, food, drinks and “general Ronzoness.”
Oxford Film Festival also honored Shapiro with its fourth annual screening of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Oxford Film Festival executive director Melanie Addington said that her organization wanted to honor Shapiro again. Along with these events, March’s film festival will also give an award in his name. The award will be for documentaries, per Shapiro’s request.
The “Rocky Horror Picture Show” screening started in Oxford when Shapiro established the Hoka, an independent theatre. Once the venue shut down, the screening didn’t happen until years later.
Addington said she wanted to bring the event back after years of its absence. Ronzo was not involved directly in the process, but he continued to be a supporter and adviser for the show.
“We’re just kind of celebrating his life throughout the year because he’s such a big part of bringing independent movies to Oxford,” Addington said.
In the last four years that the festival has hosted the event, tickets have sold out.
“On Halloween, there’s not a lot to do if you’re not a kid,” Addington said. “Because, you know, there’s like a bar contest for ‘best costume,’ and that’s really it, so this gives people something to do if they’re not a child trick or treating.”
The cult classic is an interactive film with props, singing, dancing and lines for the audience to say. A mistress of ceremonies, Jaime Adams, encouraged crowd participation and fun.
Adams started in her position because both her and Addington were fans of the movie and performances and wanted to encourage others to experience Rocky Horror.
“Each year, there can be new callbacks and things,” Adams said. “So I really enjoy, throughout the year, finding those so that you can bring something new to the table for the audience.”
Though Adams did not know Shapiro personally or ever work with him, she knew him to be a local celebrity through his work and dedication to the arts.
“He had become a legend in Oxford for being just the coolest person in the scene here in town,” Adams said. “And so, in a lot of ways, I’m certain that he broke the ground that we’re now trying to stand firmly on.”
Both events were held at the Powerhouse, where the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council often holds events. Shapiro was a member of the council and personally helped with hiring current director Wayne Andrews 10 years ago.
Andrews commented on how involved Shapiro was bringing art and culture to Oxford through events like local radio, literary events, film and music.
“So, as a community space, we thought it was a great opportunity,” Andrews said. “When the family asked us to help coordinate something for the community to come together, we could offer a space and provide a chance for people to come together.”
Ronzo left behind T-Shirts that were available at the memorial event. People were able to take a piece of Ronzo’s legacy with them and had opportunities to leave donations to support local art.