Eastside ‘walk-in movies’ prove popular summer fun

If you haven’t been to a free “Movies in the Park” show yet this summer – read this, and see what you’re missing …

The Portland Parks Bureau’s South Services Manager, Jeff Milkes, and charter sponsor Richard Kiely, toast the forthcoming recent “Star Trek” movie with bags of popcorn, before the show begins.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Starting out by showing 13 motion pictures in Portland City Parks under the “Big Screen on the Green” banner just four years ago, Portland Parks & Recreation’s outdoor theater project – they now call it “Movies in the Park” – has grown to 50 theatrical presentations across the City in 2010.

“It’s part of our ‘Summer-Free-for-All 2010’ event schedule,” explained the Parks Bureau’s South Services Manager, Jeff Milkes, as a crew set up a huge screen at Brentwood Park on Friday night, July 16. “Included are special events in playgrounds, neighborhood concerts, the Washington Park series of concerts – and movies.”

Dakota Wonderly shows you her prowess with a hula hoop, before the Brentwood Park movie gets underway at dusk.

The River City Band rocks out, as folks gather in the park to watch the latest Star Trek movie.

Funds for this ambitious public entertainment schedule are provided by private sponsors, Milkes said. “The charter sponsor for showing the movies is Home Run Graphics, located in SE Portland.”

That firm’s owner, Richard Kiely, explained, “Jeff and I got together and hatched this idea. Look how it’s taken off running!”

Kiely said Portland’s Movie in the Parks program will produce more of these festival-like events – complete with live music, kids’ games and activities, and lots of free popcorn – than any other city in the nation this year.

Portland Parks & Recreation summer workers Andrew Dawson, Erin Byerly, and Koryssa Nation are popping in to serve up the popped corn.

Every seat in this theater is a good one – because you brought it along to sit in and chose the spot!

The electricity of people connecting, and children laughing and playing, Kiely observed, has given new life to many neighborhood associations and neighborhood-watch programs.

“In addition, the incredible success of this program has drawn larger corporate sponsors to the table,” Kiely commented, as he sat down to watch the recent “Star Trek” movie. “I continue to sponsor Movies in the Parks because I feel I have a responsibility to the community in which I earn a living. It’s my job to give a little bit back.”

These events feature a huge projection screen, great sound, and free popcorn. Our advice: Bring blankets or very low outdoor chairs, or be prepared to sit in the back.

> For all listings for all Movies in All Parks, see the Portland Parks & Recreation website: CLICK HERE.

Folks line up for free popcorn, even during the movie, on July 16th in Brentwood Park.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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