There is something really special about spending a warm evening outdoors,especially in our nearly tropical paradise where it’s always summer. On any clear, balmy Fort Myers evening, we take to our decks and Lanais to relax and enjoy the fresh breeze. We also take to parks, streets and patios al fresco to spend a few delightful hours beneath the Southwest Florida stars.
At the risk of waxing nostalgic, there is one beloved outdoor summer icon that has all but disappeared over the years - the drive-in movie theater. Indeed, according to Yelp, you would have to drive nearly a hundred miles to find the nearest operating drive-in theater, and that is truly a shame. Going to a drive-in movie was a hallmark of frugal family fun as long as half a century ago, where for just a few dollars, you could pack the kids into the back of the station wagon and head for the nearest open-air theater. If the kids fall asleep, no worry, just toss a blanket over them.
So perhaps we must resign ourselves to the sad reality that the drive-in movie, as a commercial enterprise, is a thing of the past, but we can relive the experience a few times over the next few months thanks to our friends at the Fort Myers Alliance for the Arts.
Each year, the Alliance creates their own outdoor theater on the lawn and invites the public to enjoy a fun, free Family Movie Night at sundown. It’s technically not a drive-in because you watch the movie from the chairs and blankets you bring from home. And unlike at your local theater, you are welcome to bring your own refreshments. For your convenience, canned soda and popcorn will be available for a modest price. The Alliance does ask for a donation (a $5 family donation is suggested), so give a bit if you can, but nobody will pressure you in any way to feed the donation jar if you can’t.
Ok, so you now know the setup, here are this spring’s movies! On Friday, February 8th at 6:30 p.m., Family Movie Night will present “Despicable Me” starring Steve Carrel. Universal Pictures provides the following story line: “In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, we discover Gru, planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. (Yes, the moon!) Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. The world's greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith and Agnes.”
On Friday, March 15th, the charming family favorite “An American Tail” will be seen on the Family Movie Night screen at 7:45 p.m. (yes, the days will be getting longer). Featuring the hit song Somewhere Out There, An American Tail is the story of the Mousekewitz family’s journey to America and their young son, Fievel, who gets lost along the way. Landing in a bottle, he washes ashore in New York harbor where, determined to find his family, he comes face to face with the perils and opportunities of the New World. (Alliance Story Line).
Finally, on Friday, April 16th at 8 p.m., the Alliance will round off its Family Movie Nights for 2013 with A presentation of Disney’s “The Muppet.” On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan, and his friends Gary and Mary from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets' former stomping grounds. To stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10-million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit the Frog reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways. (Alliance Story Line).
Whether you just catch one of these family favorites, or catch them all, it will be an experience you and your kids won’t forget. The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard just south of Colonial. Bring your chairs, blankets and snacks. Parking is free.