JULIAN — In an attempt to give back to the community during a time when there aren’t many things that families can do publicly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boone County Parks and Recreation Department looks to hold “Movie Nights” at both Racine Park and Waterways with hopes of taking the event to parks around the county.
“That is what we’d really like to do, but we need to see if it can be successful and if the public will attend, so at first we will hold them at Racine and Waterways,” said board member Kevin Graley. “We feel like we have a good plan in place, we pick up the equipment tomorrow and we’ll look at setting some dates soon.”
Graley and Parks and Recreation Director Russell Thomas have been working on the project and developing the idea, which has gone through some changes due to guidelines related to the pandemic.
The department has purchased a projector, screen and related accessories in order to project the movie, offer sound and offer clearly marked-off social distancing measures so families can enjoy the event outside of their vehicles.
There are associated costs with the initiative, like a $400 copyright charge that comes with projecting a movie for public consumption.
“At first, we had the idea for a drive-in because we have the large parking lots to work with,” Graley said. “I think it is something that is popular to do right now and we found some equipment locally and got a phenomenal price.”
Graley made a presentation to the Boone County Commission on June 17 regarding the idea and a request for help with the cost of the equipment. The Boone County Commission committed approximately $4,700 to the project for the procurement of related equipment, which came from reallocated severance monies.
“Kevin gave a very informative presentation,” Commissioner Brett Kuhn said. “He not only brought an idea to the commission, but he brought a solution and had done the leg work ahead of time that included considerable research.”
As a sidebar, Graley also communicated to the commission that the WaterWays Amphitheater must be completed in order for Parks and Recreation to be self-supporting and viable. He also provided a list of items that still need to be completed, including public restrooms and electrical work.
“I expressed my desire for the amphitheater to be completed now,” Kuhn added. “This has gone on long enough. After seven years, we’ve got to get this done.”
Kuhn expressed that he is cognizant that Boone County’s maintenance department is stretched thin and employees are often pulled in multiple directions. He said his statement was in no way a slight on their work or efforts.
“I know that right now we’ve got the water project in Morrisvale wrapping up and our folks are doing good work,” he said. “We’ve also dealt with the COVID-19 situation.”
According to Graley, Parks and Recreation has received inquiries from theater groups, professional wrestling organizations and musical acts about the availability of the venue.
In reference to the movement to provide the movie nights for the community, Kuhn was very supportive.
“I think it is a great opportunity for our communities across the county and a great opportunity for parks and recreation,” Kuhn said. “I’m supportive of efforts to make ourselves more viable and accessible to our citizens.”
It is unclear how concessions will operate for the events, but according to Graley, Parks and Recreation are leaning toward food truck access that would allow vendors on site with an agreement that they pay a fee to Parks and Recreation for the opportunity to serve attendees.
Additionally, a “tip jar” may be onsite for any families who want — but aren’t required — to contribute to the cost of putting on the event.
“We are in a tough time right now and it is going to take some thinking outside the box to utilize our parks,” Kuhn added. “I don’t see any negatives to this.”
Graley added that dates for the “movie nights,” along with times and park locations, will be released in the coming weeks and that July is the target for launching the project.