A long-standing Davis tradition returns Saturday night after nearly getting axed for good.
Movies in the Park premieres at sunset in Central Park with “Despicable Me.” This season will feature four movies – a bump from last year’s triple feature – including, “Wizard of Oz” on Sept. 15, “Back to the Future” on Sept. 29 and “Shrek” on Oct. 6.
“We’re very excited for this season, and look forward to a great set of movies and a lot of fun at this community event,” said Will Arnold, who helped organize the free movie series for the Sunset Rotary Club.
“You see a lot of folks bringing their families out to watch the movies, and you see a lot of people, who were just passing by and saw this huge screen in the middle of Central Park, stop to watch.”
The popular, late-summer series almost came to an end, however, when it wound up on the city of Davis’ budgetary chopping block along with two other community events.
Members of Davis’ newest Rotary Club stepped in and took over just in time for last year’s Movies in the Park series.
“We were able to keep this event alive without skipping a beat even though the city, much like other public entities, is cutting their budget,” Arnold said.
At the time, the two-year-old Sunset Rotary Club only had about a dozen members, all of whom showed up to provide volunteer labor every Saturday.
The club also had to raise enough money to buy the giant movie screen, rent sound equipment each week and cover the cost of renting the movies. Each movie costs roughly $500 since the public event is considered a commercial showing, Rotarian Charlie Swanson said.
Each movie night costs between $1,500 and $2,000 to put on, according to Swanson.
“It was a pretty big task for a club our size, but we thought it had a big impact on the community,” Swanson said. “It’s a great way for service clubs to step in and volunteer some of our time and make up for some of the things that budget shortfalls have had to cut out.
“…I don’t think we’re ever going to get back to the place where cities have a bunch of money to do everything and meet everybody’s needs.”
This year, the Sunset Rotary Club was able to attract several sponsors, including Woodland Healthcare and other local businesses, raising about $10,000.
Last summer, the movie nights drew between 200 and 400 attendees.
The Davis Sunset Rotary Club meets at Our House restaurant, 808 Second St., 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Guests are welcome.