Dozens of people gathered at Brighton Park in Atlantic City on Sunday night to see one of the summer’s first films offered in the Movies Under the Stars series sponsored by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
“This Is It,” the documentary movie detailing Michael Jackson’s rehearsals for a tour of the same name, was the choice for Sunday’s movie shown on a giant inflatable screen at the park located at Indiana Avenue and the Boardwalk.
Now in its fourth summer, the movie series provides free entertainment for city residents and visitors at locations throughout the city, including Brighton Park, Gardner’s Basin, and Bartram Place at the Boardwalk. The series debuted on Friday and will run until Sept. 2.
Rikia Michael, of Atlantic City, brought her 10-year-old daughter and cousins to the movie. Although there’s concrete seating around Brighton Park, the group came prepared with their own lawn chairs.
“It’s very important to have things like this, especially with the economy right now,” said Michael, who last saw a movie in the outdoor series about two years ago. “This is a nice, neutral place in the middle of the city.”
The series was originated under the Atlantic City Special Improvement District, which was absorbed by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority last year. Now a division of the authority, the group has worked to improve landscaping and lighting on the Boardwalk in an effort to make the city cleaner and safer.
Those improvements should make the Boardwalk a more inviting venue for regular events such as the Movies Under the Stars series.
While the initial crowd that gathered for the movie was relatively small, with about 20 people, the crowd more than doubled within minutes of the movie’s start.
Some asked other members of the crowd if there was any charge to stay and watch the movie before sitting down.
Among those who didn’t plan ahead for the movie was Hope Lockhart, of Ivyland, Pa. She and her husband arrived in Atlantic City on Sunday night for a two-night stay at The Chelsea Hotel and had already committed to staying a third night because they were so impressed by the city, Lockhart said.
“I came out here to buy a hat and just happened to see the movie starting. This is just such a great setting,” Lockhart said, pointing out a fountain with changing colors behind the movie screen. “I’m truly impressed.”
All movies in the series are rated either G or PG with the exception of Avatar, which is rated PG-13. Avatar will be shown tonight at Gardner’s Basin and July 22 at Brighton Park.
If you go
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority hosts free movies from July through September at the following locations. All movies begin at dusk:
Sundays at Brighton Park
Mondays at Gardner’s Basin
Fridays at Bartram Place at the Boardwalk
For more information, including a complete list of movies and their scheduled air dates, visit www.njcrda.com or call 344-8338.
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