Bethany considers adding beachfront movie nights this summer
With the summer season looming, the focus in Bethany Beach is turning to getting the town ready for the arrival of vacationers and the entertainment the town offers to the entire area. And Town Manager Cliff Graviet is looking to add an offering to that slate of entertainment this summer.
“I’d like to be able to move forward for the summer season with showing a movie on the beachfront once a week,” Graviet told the council at their workshop on April 18, ahead of a planned vote on the proposition at the council’s April 20 meeting.
Graviet said the films shown would be “family” movies, with a PG rating or lower, ideally a G rating. They would be shown on the beach at the end of Garfield Parkway, on nights when other entertainment at the bandstand area was not scheduled.
“Ocean City has done this for a number of years,” he noted. “Dewey Beach has done it for a few years also.”
Graviet said the company used by Ocean City offered the town a price of $15,000 for an inflatable screen and other equipment needed to show movies on the beach to a crowd of up to 500 people. While the screen would be tethered against normal winds on the beach, Graviet said showings would still be weather-dependent, as high winds would prevent the use of the inflatable screen.
The cost to the town would run about $250 per movie, for royalty payments for the public showings, but Graviet said he would be exploring ways to reduce that cost, if possible.
The proposal came on short notice ahead of the council’s meeting on Friday, Graviet acknowledged, but he said he wanted the council to vote on the issue in time to get the program up and running for this summer season.
“This is a nice way of getting additional people into town in the evenings, for the businesses,” Mayor Tony McClenny commented.
However, Councilman Lew Killmer – who has been serving as one of the council’s liaisons with the business community – said he had been told some of the business owners were not happy about the idea, suggesting that those attending the films would choose to watch the films instead of going to restaurants or shopping, rather than in addition to those activities.
Councilman Jerry Dorfman said he believed moviegoers would be likely to stop to get ice cream or a drink before or after the movie, while Vice-Mayor Jack Gordon said he believed parents of some older children would choose to use the time while their children were watching the movie to go shopping in the downtown stores.
The council is set to vote on the issue at their meeting on Friday, April 20, at 2 p.m.