Beach-blanket movie showings offer family fun in Bethany Beach
This summer, Bethany Beach has added to its list of entertainment for residents and visitors by hosting Movies on the Beach.
“Other beach towns in the area have had them. I had investigated them a while ago, and the town manager picked up the ball and really got it moving forward,” explained Gloria Farrar, entertainment director for the Town of Bethany Beach. “It’s just something fun and innovative for Bethany.”
The free movies are being shown every Monday at dusk, around 8:30 p.m., on the beach just off of Garfield Parkway. Those who wish to attend need only to show up and enjoy an evening watching a movie under the stars.
“It’s just a very fun thing,” said Farrar. “When I announce that we have movie Mondays, the audience for the bandstand shows are all excited. You can hear an audible gasp. It’s so much fun!”
On Monday, July 2, the Town will be showing “Tangled,” which runs 100 minutes long. This past Monday, the featured film was “E.T.”
So far, the Town has had a positive response from those who have attended, and Farrar said she expects the event to continue to grow.
“For the first night. when we had the Muppet movie and it was very, very chilly, we had somewhere over 300. The next one was ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ and the crowds grew for that one.”
Farrar said all the movies shown are rated PG, and the Town has purposely chosen family-friendly flicks.
“We stick to the PG movies because it’s an open-air theater, so to speak. I’ve seen babies in strollers, to young kids, to parents to grandparents. We cover the whole range.”
According to John Wattenbarger, the town’s technical services manager, the Town pays a small fee for the rights to show the movies and invested in a public screening system specifically designed for showing movies on the beach.
“The system is just a very high-end inflatable screen,” he explained. The presence of the screen itself on Monday nights is a major draw for beachgoers unaware of the new offering, and Wattenbarger said the Town is also looking into purchasing a smaller screen for the bandstand, so that on nights where it’s a little too windy right on the shore, movies can still be shown.
This past Monday might have been one such night, with winds from storms just moving out of the area gusting significantly at some points in the evening, even knocking over the inflatable screen just before the showing was set to begin. The safety zone in front of the screen did its job, containing the fallen screen while town staff slightly deflated it and then set it right back up again, no worse for the wear.
Farrar said there’s nothing quite like watching a family-friendly movie on the beach at dusk and that she hopes people will continue to come out and enjoy a night at the movies.
“You’re outside and you hear the ocean… It’s just awesome, just great. Everybody is so excited. It’s just a great new thing, and for those of us who are old enough to remember drive-ins, it brings back memories. You’re not in your car, obviously — you’re in your beach chair or blanket — but it’s great.”
For more information on the Movies on the Beach, visit the Town’s Web site at www.townofbethanybeach.com or call (302) 539-8011.