By James Beaty
McALESTER — Plans are fast-forwarding to bring big screen outdoor movies back to McAlester, through a series of films to be shown by the city in local parks.
The city plans to begin showing the films next month, Plans are to show the films on Saturday nights, which will keep them from clashing with high school football games, said City Manager Pete Stasiak. Currently, the target date for debut of the new film series is the second weekend in September, said Stasiak, which is Sept. 14. That’s what we’re shooting for,” Stasiak said. He expects the first movie to be shown at Chadick Park. Movie-goers can bring lawn chairs and blankets. Vendors will also be invited to the park to sell concessions during the showings — for which no admission will be charged.
In addition to the showings at the park, the city hopes to show the Western classic “True Grit” on Oct. 5 during the Wild West Festival in Old Town.
The version of “True Grit” starring John Wayne stays true to the Charles Portis novel, by portraying the city’s founder, J.J. McAlester, and his trading post in several scenes.
City Chief Financial Officer Toni Ervin presented the plan, which she called Movies in the Park, to the city council during the council’s Tuesday night meeting at City Hall.
The project includes the purchase of a portable, inflatable, outdoor screen to be set up and taken down for each showing by personnel from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said city Community Services Director Mel Priddy.
James Stanford, a computer systems and information technology specialist for the city of McAlester, said Thursday the new equipment has been ordered. It includes a 20 foot by 11 foot inflatable screen. Including the base and borders, the inflatable will be 21 and 1/2 feet tall and 27 feet wide, according to Stanford.
The bottom of the screen will be five and one-half feet off the ground,” he said.
During her presentation to the council, Ervin said that means “Anyone on the park will be able to see it.”
Stasiak noted the screen and equipment used for the Movies in the Park series can be used for other purposes as well.
This can be used for all of our festivals throughout the year,” Stasiak said.
In addition to the screen, the equipment on order also includes speakers, speaker stands, a sound system and a Blue say DVD player, Stanford said. The inflatable screen, ordered from Air Screen, weighs 144 pounds, he said. The cost is $16,350, with the city also planning to purchase a trailer in which to haul the equipment.
Stanford said the equipment is expected to ship next week. After that, a crew will likely first set up the screen at the Southeast Expo Center, so city personnel can learn to operate it without having to contend with outside factors, such as the wind.
Next, city personnel expect to set up the inflatable screen at a city park for further testing before the first Saturday night public showings.
Although a target date has been set, it’s not yet been determined what will movie will be the first shown in the series. Stanford said the city will soon be getting information on what films are available for public showings.
Films can’t be shown by simply going to a local store and renting or buying a DVD. The city plans to make sure all the legalities are followed, according to Ervin.
We have to pay a public viewing fee,” Stanford said, so the city is awaiting information of what films are available.
The plan is to show family oriented movies, including classic Hollywood films.
That could provide the first opportunity for many to see films from Hollywood’s golden era on a the big screen, as opposed to a television screen
Some newer films that are family oriented might also be shown, Stanford said.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.