‘Walk-in movies’ gain popularity in East Portland Parks

If you haven’t been to one of these events, you’re in luck! The season isn’t over yet. Find out why thousands of folks have taken a real liking to watching movies in their neighborhood park …

It’s showtime! After live music and entertainment, people of all ages enjoy a popular motion picture, projected on a 268-square foot screen with a state-of-the-art sound system – in their neighborhood Portland City Park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Whether you call the events “Movies in the Park” or “Big Screen on the Green” – it seems that this concept, developed and produced by Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), is growing in popularity.

Portland Parks & Recreation’s South Services Manager, Jeff Milkes, has been credited with starting PP&R’s Movie in the Park program a couple of years ago.  He also serves and the “Movie Crew” supervisor and MCs many of the events.

PP&R’s Jeff Milkes emcees pre-movie entertainment at Lents Park.

“Especially with our current economy, we’re doing our best to provide citizens of Portland with quality free entertainment this summer,” Milkes said during the pre-movie entertainment at Lents Park a couple of weeks ago. “The movies, along with the concerts in the park, provide 100 or more free events to help people who are on ‘stay-cation’.”

Events build community
Movie in the Park events encourage neighbors to use their local park, Milkes told us.

“And, having these events helps build a feeling of community, not only for those who live in the immediate area of the park, but also with those who travel from other areas of the city to the park to attend the event. We see people interact well together. These are truly community events, in which folks can participate in a wholesome family activity.”

All of the members of this band, “SkysHatter”, are David Douglas High School seniors – who are classically trained on several different instruments. But here, they’re really rocking out!

As original underwriting sponsor for Movies in the Park, and a continuing sponsor, Richard Kiely of Home Run Graphics, says bringing neighbors together in the park helps improve the quality of life across the city.

Says he likes seeing the smiles
We asked East Portland resident and current Spirit of Portland Small Business Award winner, Richard Kiely, president of Home Run Graphics, why he is a marquee sponsor for the event.

“This is my community,” replied Kiely. “Yes, it brings people in a neighborhood together – which in turn, can help reduce crime and improve livability. But more than that, I love coming to the Movie in the Park events and seeing the smiles – big smiles, six miles wide. I see kids playing together in a city park, and parents being able to decompress for a while. Any event that gets neighbors to come together, and get to know one another better, is a wonderful thing.”

Music, popcorn and a movie make for a great late afternoon show and evening movie at Lents Park.

Provides a quality motion picture viewing experience
The PP&R Movie Team sets up a 268-square foot screen and powerful, state-of-the-art sound system in the park. The clarity of the picture and sound will astound you.

Prior to each movie, visitors enjoy a variety of free entertainment beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Parks Department supplies free popcorn – but you should bring your own blanket, beach chair, picnic lunch (no booze).

Movies begin at dark (between 8 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.) – weather permitting. Any rain-out will be called by 5 p.m., and will be posted at the park.

Preview of coming attractions

Here’s a listing of Movie in the Park dates for East Portland. There are more showings on more dates, in other parks – check www.portlandparks.org for more information.

August 15
“Iron Man” plays at Lents Park, 4664 SE 92nd Avenue (near the gazebo).

August 20
“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” – This showing is subtitled for individuals with hearing disabilities so they, too, can enjoy it. It’s in the Centennial Neighborhood at Parklane Park, 15198 SE Main Street.

August 26
“One Night in Frogtown” plays this evening at Sellwood Park, on SE 7th Avenue, north of SE Tacoma Street.

August 27
“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” screens this evening at  Hazeltine Park on SE Flavel Drive at SE Lambert Street.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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