Movies series returns to Asa Bales

Community members prepare their seats and await the start of “Brave” at Asa Bales Park during last year’s inaugural movie series kickoff. (File photo by Robert Herrington)

Community members prepare their seats and await the start of “Brave” at Asa Bales Park during last year’s inaugural movie series kickoff. (File photo by Robert Herrington)

After two years of planning, the Westfield Parks Dept. began a new Friday tradition last year with the inaugural Movies in the Park. The free series provides the community with an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing evening under the stars and watch a good movie at Asa Bales Park.

Special Events Coordinator Amanda Jackson said the series averaged 400 attendees last year.

“We’re hoping to have even larger crowds this year. We anticipate that number is going to increase,” she said, adding that each movie night has been sponsored by local businesses. “The series has been completely backed by the community. The sponsorships allow us to offer new things like free popcorn.”

In addition to free popcorn, the series has expanded one week and the showing of “Despicable Me 2” on Aug. 1 will include Spanish subtitles.

“If we get a good turnout we may do this for other offerings – this year or next,” Jackson said.

All of the films are rated PG with the exception of “Man of Steel,” which is PG-13.

“We tried to get a good variety – sport movie, cartoon-based, animated – really just something that might appeal to all different levels,” Jackson said. “The showing of ‘E.T.’ last year had a completely different audience than other movies. We’d like to get new people to visit Asa Bales Park to see one of the movies.”

Guests are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs, snacks and flashlights. Movies will begin at dusk, so listed start times may vary. Parking is available at Westfield High School, across the street from the Asa Bales Park north entrance, 205 W. Hoover St.

The series is a partnership between the parks department and the service-driven members of CitySpring Church, which provide the necessary equipment and volunteers to put on each movie.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with them. The event would not happen without them,” Jackson said. “They are hard workers who want to serve the community. I just cannot say enough good things about them.”

“We want the first time people heard about CitySpring was because they were served in one way or another. We’re happy our service speaks for itself,” CitySpring Church Lead Pastor Matt Gaylor said.

Gaylor said City Spring has been in existence for two years.

“We want to be a part of the city so we went to the leadership to see what they wanted to solve,” he said. “We want to serve the community.”

CitySpring meets weekly at Carey Ridge Elementary School. Gaylor said the church sets up and removes the equipment worth $70,000 every week in its temporary home.

“It all goes in every week. We thought, ‘why not do it on a Friday night? It’s already portable.’ Our whole church is in a trailer,” he said.

Because of the electronics, Jackson said movies will be shown in light rain or mist but encourages patrons to call 804-3180 or the parks department Facebook page for updates on cancellations.

“We had to call one do to weather last year,” Jackson said. “We are constantly monitoring weather during the day and at the event.”

The schedule

• July 25 – “Remember the Titans” (9:05 p.m., running time 113 minutes, PG)

• Aug. 1 – “Despicable Me 2” with Spanish subtitles (9 p.m., running time 98 minutes, PG)

• Aug. 8 – “Ghostbusters” (8:50 p.m., running time 105 minutes, PG)

• Aug. 22 – “Planes” (8:30 p.m., running time 92 minutes, PG)

• Sept. 26 (Double Feature) – “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” (7:35 p.m., running time 95 minutes, PG) and “Man of Steel” (9:20 p.m., running time 148 minutes, PG-13)

*All start times are approximate.