After a summer-long hiatus, the Foundation for Napa Recreation is trying to bring back a popular family event.
The nonprofit has begun efforts to privately pay for the Movies in the Park program, which did not happen this past summer for lack of money. The foundation hopes to collect $7,500, enough to sponsor five movies between May and September next year.
“It’s one of those fun, family events, very similar to Music in the Park,” said Kelly Abernathy, city recreation supervisor. “It’s a hometown event where families can come together. You can throw your blanket and chairs out on the lawn, pack some dinner and snacks, the kids can run around.”
The free movies were held monthly in Veterans Memorial Park for four summers, bringing roughly 700 adults and children out each month to see family-friendly movies, ranging from newer releases to classic films. They were paid for in part through private donations made to the Foundation for Napa Recreation, but primarily through the Napa Community Redevelopment Agency.
“(The agency) saw helping to fund this program as a way of revitalizing downtown (by) bringing people into the park and providing a free activity not only for the local community but also the tourists,” Abernathy said.
In February, the state dissolved redevelopment agencies across the state, eliminating the funding source for Movies in the Park. Since word spread that the movies would not be offered in 2012, Abernathy said it was a frequent topic of discussion, coming up in every Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, as well as during every foundation meeting.
“It was really one of those programs we had a hard time deciding to cut,” Abernathy said. “With the loss of redevelopment funds, we really didn’t have the choice not to.”
The foundation is seeking donations of any amount, but donations of $500 or more qualify as sponsorships and come with varying degrees of perks. Sponsors will be included in event marketing materials and receive other benefits.
As of Monday, Abernathy had not received any checks, but said she had been told by the foundation that about half the money needed had been committed through verbal pledges. She said she’s not counting that money as donated until it’s in hand, adding that if enough money is raised to show only a few movies, the program will be scaled back.
“We will do as much as our funding will allow for,” Abernathy said.
The city has tentative dates booked for the movies, one each month from May through September, Abernathy said. It contracts with a company that brings in and sets up all the equipment and runs the event. The $1,500 price tag for each film covers rights to show the movie before a large audience, equipment and staffing.
Scott Sedgley, new councilman and chairman of the Foundation for Napa Recreation, said fundraising efforts have only just started but he hopes the money will come through so the movies can be brought back.
“It’s affordable, family entertainment,” Sedgley said. “It’s another summer activity thing for our families to do.”