Free movie screenings in Kingston parks begin this Friday


Associating movies with stars is a given, but how many times have you had the chance to watch a movie outdoors under the real stars above? In Kingston city parks this summer, you’ll have just such an opportunity, eight times over.

Beginning Friday, June 29, “Movies under the Stars” will come to the parks of Kingston every Friday night for eight consecutive weeks. Family-friendly movies will be projected on a 20-foot screen using professional-grade sound and film projection equipment starting at sundown, approximately 8:30 p.m. The events are free, and complimentary popcorn and ice-cold water will be available.

Before each screening, there will be a different family-oriented activity. And as if that’s not enough, the Kingston CitiBus’ historic Jitney Trolley will even do a special run each movie night, providing free transportation to the park for those who wish to forego looking for parking, or for seniors who live in assisted living facilities without a car who wish to attend.

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The program is a project of the nonprofit Friends of Kingston Parks and Recreation. Jen Fuentes is a volunteer with the group who says that she got involved because she knew that the Kingston Parks and Recreation Department was struggling to maintain programs and find the funds to do innovative things. “A group of us established a volunteer committee,” she says, “and we raised enough money that we’ve been able to purchase this incredible movie projection equipment and sound system, put together by Markertek, that will project to over 500 people – even outside, with the challenges of ambient sound that you find outdoors.”

The equipment has been donated to the Kingston Parks and Recreation Department to be used for other events, and hopefully, for summer movie series to come. “We’re trying to seed the account for next year,” Fuentes says, “and for the years after that. Once the series is done this summer, we hope to continue the tradition.”

Back in the ‘90s, Kingston had a series of movies outdoors in the parks, but they had to rent the equipment each time, she says, and that was cost-prohibitive. “Now that we own the equipment, the only ongoing expense is the cost of movie copyrights.” The licenses to show the eight movies this year have already been purchased, at a cost of about $2,700, says Fuentes; but that will have to be done each year.

The group works in partnership with Kingston Cares and the Kingston Land Trust. They’ve enlisted sponsorship and engaged local businesses to provide free refreshments, like Binnewater Ice and Spring Water Company, who will supply over ten cases of cold water every week, and the Queens Galley/Cooking Matters, who will set up a popcorn machine each week to provide a free snack. Local student Karina Pacheco of Miller Middle School submitted the winning design to create a logo for the group, and Johnson’s Signs and Tees in Kingston printed tee-shirts at cost, available for $10 each.

The movies were chosen through online voting, says Fuentes. First up on June 29 will be Ghostbusters at Gallo Park, followed by The Wizard of Oz at Academy Green Park on July 6; ET the Extraterrestrial (restored version) at Kingston Point Beach on July 14; The Goonies at Cornell Park on July 20; Grease at Forsyth Park on July 27; Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 version) at Loughran Park on August 3; Pixar/Disney’s Up at Hasbrouck Park on August 10; and ending with Superman (1978 version) at the Kings Inn site on Broadway on August 17. “We encourage people to come early, grab some takeout from one of the restaurants near the park, or bring a picnic basket and spot out their location,” says Fuentes.

All rain dates will be moved to the Andy Murphy Midtown Recreation Center at 467 Broadway. In the early evening hours before the movies, the family-friendly activity in the park will vary. “Kingston Land Trust is going to be doing yoga before one movie [The Wizard of Oz on July 6], and we also have the Center for Creative Education in Kingston doing several programs, including ‘soul line dancing’ [before Ghostbusters on June 29] and ‘Zumba in the park’ [before Willy Wonka on August 3],” says Fuentes. “The idea is to get people visiting our parks, seeing what a great wealth we really have as a city because of our beautiful park system. It’s more than just movies; it’s a full evening of entertainment.”

Pickups for the free Jitney Trolley service will begin at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. each movie night (5:15 and 6:15 p.m. on August 17), with a 10:30 p.m. pickup back from the “Movies under the Stars” location for return trips. For more information, visit www.kingstonparksmovies.com or call Fuentes at (845) 332-6600.

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