By James Beaty
It’s almost show time!
City of McAlester employees set up their huge new movie screen in the Southeast Expo Center for a test run on Tuesday.
Led by James Stanford, a computer systems and information technology specialist for the city of McAlester, a crew from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department helped plug a blower into the inflatable screen, which soon rose to full height.
As the crew worked to familiarize themselves with the system, Stanford felt confident enough to proclaim it will be ready to for its debut this weekend at a city park.
The city plans to show a free screening of the original 1971 film of “Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder, on Saturday night at Chadick Park, he said.
“A lot of kids have not seen the older one,” Stanford said, referring to the first version of the movie, “and a lot of adults can remember it.”
He said the city plans to show the movie once darkness falls.
Meanwhile, city of McAlester Chief Financial Officer Toni Ervin said “just for fun,” free chocolate bars will be given to the first 50 individuals who show up to attend the Saturday night movie.
Stanford said there should be some vendors at Chadick Park on Saturday night to sell concessions. However, those attending are welcome to bring their own food and drinks, Stanford said, with the exception of alcohol, which is prohibited in city parks.
“No alcoholic beverages will be permitted,” Stanford said.
Plans call for the huge screen to be set up on the east side of Chadick Park, between the Pittsburg County War Memorial and the God’s Little Angel Memorial, according to Stanford.
Current plans call for the screen to face the east and the audience to face the west, he said.
No chairs will be provided, so those attending will probably want to bring lawn chairs or blankets on which to sit, city workers suggested.
Stanford said the equipment includes a 20 foot by 11 foot inflatable screen, speakers, speaker stands, a sound system and a Blue Ray DVD player with which to project the movie onto the screen. Cost of the equipment is $16,350, he said.
As the city workers set up the equipment for the practice run at the Southeast Expo, Delona Jones, a maintenance worker at the Expo, and Marcella Bess, an office and concessions worker, checked it out.
“I like it,” she said. She said she was also glad those watching the movies can bring their own snacks or picnics.
City workers Sherman Miller, Clifford Harrison, Robbie Patton and Clifford Vanderpool, of the city’s Parks and Recreations Department assisted with setting up he test run of the movie equipment at the Southeast Expo Center.
City workers planned to set up the equipment up at Chadick Park around 6 p.m. Saturday to do their best make sure everything is properly adjusted by the time the viewers arrive. However, Stanford noted it will be the first time the crew has shown an outdoor movie on this equipment.
“The first showing, they will have to bear with us,” he said.
That doesn’t mean he’s not confident it will offer a unique experience.
“I think it will be great,” he said.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.