Couple Wants to Give Back to River Bend with Portable Outdoor Movies

ALTON, ILLINOIS - For Jay and Stephanie Sinclair, extending audiences the opportunity to view classic movies on a 30-foot-wide outdoor screen is a "positive" for the community. The couple recently bought a portable Outdoor Cinema available to rent to River Bend businesses and neighborhoods. Audiences will be able to attend any Outdoor Cinema event free of charge, thanks to the host who can either pay for the rental or fund-raise at the event. "We were hoping to bring some entertainment to the community," said co-owner Stephanie Sinclair. "We want to provide something to do on the weekend. We're from the area, born and raised here. We want to see something positive happen." Outdoor Cinema is available for music and video concerts, video game tournaments, street and festival fairs, block parties and major sporting events, but the main gig is showing "family-friendly" movies in parks or local businesses' parking lots. One example is "Horton Hears a Who," which the Sinclairs screened June 13, at Evangelical Church in Godfrey. The couple's first event was not sponsored and 70 people attended. The idea for an outdoor theater came about five years ago when Stephanie's husband, Jay, a full-time Sprint employee, attended an Anheuser-Busch screening in which a theater screen of similar size was used. Since they first started booking events in March, they have received numerous calls to book the Outdoor Cinema. Liberty Bank, Raging Rivers and Piasa Winery are among the contenders. "People will call us to book events," she said, "I just got an e-mail from Raging Rivers the other day, possibly something special for season ticket holders." What really got the idea on the fast track was that the portable movie screen was really popular in places around the country and that it would entail involving the community. There are many people who are excited to see classic movies up on the big screen again, said Sinclair. "I have heard people saying, ‘This is really cool. We're going to tell everyone we know about it,'" she said, "We have also had a lot of people talk about the sound quality being exactly like it is in the theater." The big screen showings can accommodate up to 1,000 people and the Sinclairs are hoping to pack their events through the year. When asked why they felt they needed to give back to the community, the stay-at-home mom responded, "I have a social degree; maybe that has something to do with it. We just want to see our family together. We want to see it grow." Their next event will be a showing of "E.T." at dusk today at Garfield Park in Alton and will be hosted and sponsored by the Y.W.C.A. of Alton. In addition, upcoming events include the Alton High School class of '98 hosting a showing of "The Goonies" at the Evangelical Church in Godfrey on June 27 and Liberty Bank's Grand Opening on July 12, with the movie "Surf's Up." For more information visit

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