MACON, Ga. — Day by day, the heart of downtown Macon is drawing visitors for more than restaurants’ lunch specials.
Filming for the second Jackie Robinson motion picture biography, 42, drew a crowd to Third Street on Monday that grew larger as the afternoon wore on.
Debbie Lewis stopped for lunch in Macon on her way to Amelia Island, Fla., for vacation, and she decided to come downtown and see the action.
Lewis, originally from Macon, said she has been keeping up with coverage of the movie from her home in Decatur.
She even brought her mother, also from Macon, to see the transformation of Luther Williams Field, where, Lewis said, her mother attended baseball games as a child.
“I think it’s great that they’re using historic Macon buildings for the movie,” she said.
Diners at Acapulco Mexican restaurant had a prime view of the filming at lunch Monday, but the restaurant was a little emptier than usual, owner Gus Barragan said.
Barragan said he anticipated a lull in business because of street closures caused by filming, but he was looking at the bigger picture.
“I’m all for new things downtown. Even with the loss of business, it’s all good,” he said.
Barragan said he thinks the film will do well in theaters, and he thinks that will bring people downtown to see where scenes were filmed.
Third Street between Cherry and Poplar streets was closed to traffic Monday morning for filming.
Shortly before lunchtime, actors were rehearsing scenes outside Blair’s Discount Store, which was transformed into a J.C. Penney store last week.
Ernie Malik, the film’s publicist, said one of the scenes filmed Monday showed Robinson, played by Chadwick Boseman, meeting sportswriter Wendell Smith for the first time.
Smith was the black reporter and later editor for the Pittsburgh Courier who recommended Robinson to Dodgers President Branch Rickey before Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
Malik said Monday’s filming would include Orange Terrance to shoot indoor scenes in the hallway of a historic home.
The interior of the house will be the scene of a New York boarding house in the 1940s.
The film crew will be shooting more baseball scenes through today at Luther Williams Field.