This summer, the big screen will once again be erected in Kingston’s parks, thanks to the efforts of a special committee spearheaded by former alderman Jen Fuentes to bring back a delightful civic tradition of free outdoor movies, which unfortunately ceased in the late 1990s. To raise money for the equipment – a portable high-definition projector, portable screen and decent sound system – and copyright licensing fees, which range between $325 and $450, depending on the movie, the committee is hosting an all-you-can-bowl fundraiser at Mid City Lanes, on Cedar Street, on February 25 from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $20, which includes shoe rentals and refreshments. Bumpers will be installed in some of the lanes so that young kids can compete. Mid City Lanes will be donating half of the proceeds to the fundraiser.
Fuentes said that the current budget for the movie screenings, which will consist of eight free films, is $17,000. She expects that the full amount will be raised by June 1, given that $4,000 had been raised in the first six weeks of the fundraising drive, with commitments for several thousand more and several grant applications in the works. Besides the bowling event, the committee will be holding a raffle, which will be picked May 1, and a big silent auction, as well as hosting a concert at the Old Dutch Reformed Church on March 24.
The original movies-in-the-park series were discontinued because of cuts in the City budget (in 1990, the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation had 24 employees, compared to nine today, according to Fuentes). The committee, which includes the Kingston Land Trust, Kingston Cares, Rondout Savings Bank and other city organizations and businesses, as well as dedicated individuals, is part of Friends of Kingston Parks and Recreation, which was formed last year by Kingston Recreation commissioner Kevin Gilfeather.
Showtime for the movies will be 8:30 p.m., and the screenings will be located at various city parks, with the exception of Block Park and Rotary Park. The last showing, scheduled for August 17, will be at the site formerly occupied by the Kings Inn motel; Fuentes said that, to minimize noise, Broadway might be closed for the day. Live performances by the Center for Creative Education, the St. Mark’s AME Zion Church’s kids’ chorus and other community groups will precede the film showing. Fuentes said that the movies will likely consist of perennial blockbuster favorites, such as ET and Superman: “classics that are a lot of fun.” The committee’s logo was designed by Karina Pacheco, a student at Miller Middle School who won a logo contest held at the school.