Reinventing The Drive-In, Parks And Rec Style

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Payson families can grab their lawn chairs and blankets for an end of summer movie, shown on a 14 by 23-foot screen, at Green Valley Park.

Showtime is 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22.

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Families get ready for an Arizona Mobile Cinema movie. It was held through Prescott's Parks and Recreation this past summer.

"Due to licensing agreements, we can't mention the name of the movie in print, but people can and have been calling the office," Mary McMullen, Payson Parks and Recreation (P and R) coordinator, said.

Here are a few hints: Night watchman Larry encounters a playful T-rex skeleton and outwits miniature armies of Romans and cowboys with the help of the 26th President of the United States.

The un-named movie grossed more than $250 million domestically, but Payson residents of all ages get to see the PG-rated film free, courtesy of parks and recreation department.

Julie and Adam Medlin remembered the old drive-ins and wanted to bring back the nostalgia with modern technology, so they started Arizona Mobile.

They have brought everything from screen to sound system to microphones for public announcements to parties and events, for three years.

"The outdoor movie experience really has caught on -- pool, graduation and corporate parties -- the possibilities are endless," Medlin said of her Flagstaff-based company.

Prescott Parks and Recreation recently held two successful movie nights.

"I went to one of the shows and it went really well. We had close to 200 people attend," Michelle Stacy, recreation secretary for Prescott Parks and Recreation.

The idea to bring a drive-in theater experience to the Rim Country came when a Payson resident who had seen the show in Prescott contacted McMullen.

AMC cannot show new theatrical releases.

Payson P and R staff and people they polled looked for a "fairly recent, family friendly movie," McMullen said.

AMC is not licensed to show new theatrical releases.

"We are kicking the movie night off as a trial run, but if it is successful and people want to do it again, we will think about doing it in warmer weather," she said.

Medlin expects the picture quality to be "superb" because of Payson's dark skies.

In an effort to keep the skies dark, P and R will not be turning on the lights at Green Valley.

"Bring a flashlight," McMullen advises.

The 125th Anniversary of Payson wagon will be onsite, selling goodies that evening.

Medlin will hand out glow necklaces to children.

"I am excited and interested to see how it all works out. It is a pretty neat way to spend Saturday night with the family in Payson," McMullen said.

As far as cost, McMullen said P and R got a "very good deal" on this trial movie. One possibility to pay for the cost of future movies might include a banner put up by a sponsoring business.

That is purely conceptual for now.

As people settle into their chairs and blankets Sept. 22, there will be a PowerPoint presentation of P and R activities and Payson's 125th Anniversary.

P and R does not plan to have feedback cards Saturday evening, but the department does want public feedback after the event that can help them plan for the future.

"Please drop us an e-mail or give us a call," McMullen said.

Parks and Rec Online: http://www.ci.payson.az.us/Departments/parks/rec-index.htm

Phone: (928) 474-5242, Ext. 7.

Arizona Mobile Cinema Online: www.arizonamobilecinema.com/.

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