Salem, Oregon: Find Fun With Outdoor Movies

Find Fun with Cinema Outdoors in Salem, OregonA family of four going out for an evening to watch a movie at a theater, including dinner or snacks, quickly can add up to as much as $80. With more people trying to save money, finding inexpensive ways to have fun and be entertained can help keep costs down. Despite the excitement of opening night of a blockbuster film, families and couples who wait it out and see the flick at a second-run movie theater can pay less than half the price or even have dinner to go with the movie. At the second-run movie theater Northern Lights Theatre Pub, the movies are not the latest to hit the big screen, but people can enjoy dinner and a movie at reasonable prices. All ticket prices are $3 and the dinner menu has options ranging from $3.50 to $8. Not only does it save you money because it's cheaper, but you can do it all in one place, said Michelle Day, office manager for Northern Lights on Commercial Street SE. The theater has seen an increase in business during the past few weeks, Day said. A lot of people purposely wait for us to get the movies, Day said. If people don't want to spend any money watching a movie, but still want to get out of the house, there are movies- in-the-park options. For the first time, a Summer Outdoor Family Film Series is being held at Riverfront Park Amphitheater in Salem. Residents can head to the park with blankets, picnic baskets or chairs, and for free, watch a movie together. The 24-by-13-foot inflatable screen can be seen from anywhere in the Amphitheater, said Becky George, recreation coordinator for Salem Department of Community Services. It's like going to the drive-in, George said. People can arrive as early as 7:30 p.m., but the movie doesn't start until dusk. Some local businesses, including Town & Country Lanes on River Road N in Keizer, have teamed up with other nearby establishments to develop entertainment packages that save people from having to drive too far and spend too much on a night out. We're trying to combine services to serve the community, said Mardi Smith, promotions coordinator for Town & Country. Smith said she wanted to find a way to get families together and keep things inexpensive, so she contacted Domino's Pizza and Hollywood Video on River Road N to develop what is called Bowling, Movie and Pizza Night Easy as 1, 2, 3 on River Road. The promotion is on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, when patrons who bowl at least three games get free shoe rentals and if they order a large three-topping pizza from Domino's, it will be delivered to the lanes for$10. The pizza regularly is priced at $18.99. People also can get a rent-one-get-one-free coupon for the Hollywood Video down the street. If we partner more in the community, we can help each other, Smith said. Hanging out in local parks is a sure way to inexpensive entertaining. There, the mind is the limit concerning how to have fun. Having a day-care service with as many as 10 children per day keeps Mary Hawkins, who lives in West Salem, constantly on the lookout for cheap ways to keep the kids amused. Taking them to places such as the West Salem Park splash fountain certainly did the trick last week when the weather was warmer. Creativity is key for Hawkins, who has the children do scavenger hunts in area parks, play games and take walks on wildlife trails. I'm constantly looking for ways to save a buck or two, Hawkins said. On her downtime, Hawkins said, she enjoys spending time at home in her campground-style backyard. Because gas prices went up, she sold the RV she regularly drove to Detroit Lake State Park and set up her backyard as a camping experience. Complete with a four-person green canvas tent, fire pit and barbecue grill, it allows Hawkins to go camping at her leisure and spend time with her family without spending money on gas or park fees. She also walks around more and goes to free events such as First Wednesday in downtown Salem. With the economy the way it is, Hawkins is a firm believer in making do with what she has. You have to brighten up your own little environment, Hawkins said. It's all about using your imagination. Irene Bernards, tourism marketing and public-relations director for Salem Convention and Visitors Association, said the economic downturn is a good opportunity for people to reconnect with their families by exploring their community. I think people think they know the Salem area, Bernards said, adding that if people have some extra time and not a lot of money, they should get out and see what the community has to offer. By Elida S. Perez • Statesman Journal

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