Dundalk, Maryland: Outdoor Movies Reach Out to Dundalk Community

Saturday marks the commencement of the Main Street Outdoor Movie Series, a project the Dundalk Renaissance Corp. started last year. It's a community-building strategy, said Amy Menzer, executive director of the DRC. People don't need to go to White Marsh to go to the movies. The summer open air movie series has expanded from last year's three films (one of which was rained out) to six. The DRC purchased its own 4,500-foot Lumen projector and an 11.6-by-19.8-foot screen to have for future use. The outdoor movies will be shown in the parking lot behind the Patapsco Masonic Lodge on Trading Place, directly across from Heritage Park, where they were viewed last year.

We rented the sound equipment from Dundalk Music right here on Main Street. This way, we are supporting local businesses, said Main Street manager Jordan Hadfield. The idea for the open air cinema series arose from a monthly Promotion Committee Meeting held by the DRC. Citizens wrote down several ideas for community events, and the outdoor movie series was born. Menzer sees the outdoor movies as potentially beneficial to current and prospective residents of Dundalk. It makes for a more attractive place to live and adds to the character of the community, she said. The series with movies rated PG and PG13 caters to families. The goal is for children and families to be on Main Street after dark. We are creating memories for kids too, said Hadfield. The first open air movie in the series Shrek III (June 7) was selected by last years first audience. The Main Street Movie Committee chose My Fair Lady (June 21), Spider-Man III (July 12) and the 2007 version of Hairspray (July 26). To involve more children in the community, the series will also feature two school-sponsored outdoor movie nights. Students from Dundalk Elementary selected Ratatouille (Aug. 9), and students from Logan Elementary chose Bee Movie (Aug. 23). Hadfield said the DRC made some improvements since last year. The committee will introduce pre-show entertainment that begins at 7:30 p.m and runs until dark, including live music, face painting, balloon animals and karaoke.

Part of the funding for the open air movies comes the Baltimore County-backed Rediscover Campaign. The DRC also subsidizes the costs with an advertisement trailer before the outdoor screening. Several local businesses have donated items for raffles, and the DRC is negotiating with nearby restaurants to arrange for food delivery during the movie showings. The DRC is also using the outdoor movie series to attract people interested in bringing a wider range of retail stores to Main Street. Menzer said if the community is going to make the businesses that already exist on Main Street more viable and bring in future businesses, it needs to entice non-locals. The more we get people coming here, they'll see that there is stuff here, she said. Main Street Movies June 7: Shrek III June 21: My Fair Lady

July 12: Spider-Man III July 26: Hairspray Aug. 9: Ratatouille Aug. 23: Bee Movie Preshow starts at 7:30 p.m. Feature presentaion begins at dusk. Bring a chair or blanket, and money for food and drinks (or bring your own).

by Heather Perlberg

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