It's Friday night in St. George. The weather is nice but money is tight and you and the kids are wondering what to do. Two weeks ago, the City of St. George kicked off an answer to that question and today it's back again - an outdoor movie event called Sunset in the Square, complete with vendors selling traditional movie treats and youth and adults kicking back on lawn chairs and blankets to see what the silver screen has in store.
"It's just a fun thing to do with the kids," said Stacey Williams of Washington City. "The kids like to play in the splash area, then they get their jammies on and watch a movie."
Jeanine Tapusoa and Chong Christensen, both of St. George, came to check out the event for the first time on May 8 and were pleased to find something the whole family could enjoy.
Maintaining that kind of family friendly environment is one of the primary goals city officials have for the bi-monthly event and this year event coordinators were even more cautious when selecting films.
"We went a little more nostalgic this year looking at some classics from the past," said Gary Sanders, community arts administrator for St. George.
That nostalgia is evidenced by movies like "Back to the Future," shown on the event's opening night, and "Annie," showing today. Other films include cartoons like "Happy Feet" and "Madagascar 2" and other family-friendly features like "Casper" and "Little Big League," all projected onto a 14-foot by 20-foot screen.
"It's undoubtedly a family affair," said Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager for St. George. "We know there's going to be kids there regardless, so it's important to keep the content something everyone can enjoy and not be offended by."
Additionally, the films are shown with closed captions on screen, as often as captions are available, for those with hearing impairments to enjoy the event as well.
"We're just trying to appeal to a wide variety of people," Mortensen said of the accommodations and the kinds of movies showing this year.
So far, "the response has been phenomenal," he added.
Last year the outdoor films drew between 800 and 1,200 people each week by the end of the season. Officials expect to see the same kind of turnout this year, particularly since many people are looking for inexpensive kinds of entertainment and Sunset on the Square is free.
"It's better than going out to eat," said Leo Bundy, who came to see the first film of the season with his children and his girlfriend.
Across the lawn, 7-year-old Daryn Ham said she likes coming because it reminds her of when she was "a little girl."
The movies officially begin at dusk, but people can come early to enjoy the splash pad area on Town Square or grab a bite to eat at one of the vendors set up on the perimeter of the seating area, or to just sit and enjoy the summer breeze and the aroma of popcorn wafting through the air.
"It's a pleasant evening. Why not get out of the house?" said Rebecca Houghton of Santa Clara, adding that the event provides a chance to sample some of the businesses in town via the booths on location and it's a place to catch up with old friends.
The vendors may change from time to time, but ultimately Sunset on the Square is about the movie, so Mortensen said those in charge will try to maintain a balance to avoid having it become overly-commercialized.
Sunset on the Square takes place at dusk today and continues every other Friday through Sept. 25 at the St. George Town Square. For more information, including a link to trailers from each of the films being shown, log onto www.sgcity.org/news/sunsetonthesquare.php.
Source: "Sunset on the Square: Free outdoor movie series continues today" by Lisa Larson -The Spectrum. Read full article at: http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20090522/ENTERTAINMENT01/905220301