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Filming crew and Reese Witherspoon draw hundreds to Ashland Plaza

Hundreds of spectators today milled about Ashland's Plaza to catch a glimpse of the filming of "Wild" and its star, Reese Witherspoon.

The downtown's retro-1995 makeover and Hollywood takeover closed several streets to public automobiles and limited foot traffic for most of the day while the scenes were filmed.

Some onlookers stood on their tip-toes to catch a glimpse of Witherspoon mid-scene, while other passers-by let out audible sighs as they were informed of detours around the set or asked to wait for the cameras to stop rolling.

In the movie, Witherspoon visits the downtown Plaza, which crews transformed with artificial foliage and props to make it appear like mid-summer 1995. Dozens of candles, some empty wine bottles, 1995-and-earlier vehicles and a few tents and a guitar transformed the Plaza into a gypsy-hippie-style scene of locals mourning the death of Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead.

The movie, which is the largest-budget film ever shot in Ashland, is based on Cheryl Strayed's bestselling memoir "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail." Film publicist Toni Atterbury said filmmakers acquired more than 120 extras for the scenes in Ashland, and brought a crew of about 60.

The crew spent about two weeks filming outside Bend on portions of the Pacific Crest Trail, Atterbury said, but she wouldn't disclose where in Oregon the movie was headed next.

"We're just thrilled to be here on such a gorgeous day, Ashland has just been so wonderful to film in," she said. "People are showing a lot of hospitality."

— Sam Wheeler

Read more in Wednesday's paper.