Monday, August 19, 2013

Watching a Film at Water's Edge: Movies in Ah-Nab-Awen Park

When I heard that the citizens of Grand Rapids would get to watch movies in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, I got excited. I was already elated about the uses that the green space outside of the Gerald R. Ford Museum had recently been apart of, namely the visit from New Belgium Brewing Company during its Clips Beer & Film Tour in June. I saw something during that early summer night that I hadn't witnessed yet downtown: a relaxed outdoor atmosphere with friends and families--families with kids in strollers to kids in braces--enjoying a beer in a part of the city that I always saw as underutilized.

And then, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. announced its Movies in the Park series. Apparently, the Downtown Development Authority approved $55,000 for the purchase of the necessary goods--projection equipment, an inflatable screen, and a trailer for transport--after a survey indicated that the people of GR wanted outdoor films. The first film screening was earlier this month--on August 2--when "The Princess Bride" was shown. Though I didn't go to the inaugural event, I'm sure it was successful, considering the turnout for the second film screening on August 16. I went to this one and though I wasn't there for the beginning or the end of the movie, I did get to experience one unexpected side effect of watching a movie in the park: viewers with skewed expectations.

It's one thing when you're watching "Back to the Future" in a movie theater (or some other movie, considering "Back to the Future" was originally in theaters during the 1980s) and you tell people around you to quiet down, but when you're in a public park at a viewing with hundreds of people in attendance, you should expect a little background noise. So, to the person who sat in front of me and made your hand look like it was talking and then proceeded to flip me and my friends the bird, we weren't nearly as disruptive as you were acting. If you wanted to hear better, you should have gotten there earlier to get a seat closer to the action--we were all the way in the back! And, though we were talking, I think you were the rude one. You didn't even have the courtesy to turn around when you showed your vulgar side--if you really want something to happen, you shouldn't have been so passive aggressive.

[Insert witty reference regarding 88 mph here] | Photo
courtesy of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
Besides that, the event seemed to be a victory for urbanites wanting to see some green space being used both efficiently and appropriately. I mean, there was a real DeLorean on the premises! I got to watch a movie outside with my friends! Hundreds of people showed up! Risking the judgment of our readership, I was both stunned and ready to take advantage of the fact that I could have a couple of beers in the park. What could be better than that? The next Movie in the Park is "Anchorman" on August 23 so mark your calendars: that's this Friday. So if you're interested in having a few drinks on public property while you enjoy a movie that most people find hilarious, keep the event in mind. And cross your fingers that you don't sit near someone who has inflated expectations about when and where movie courtesy is required.