Construction on the new tennis/pickleball courts at Berryhill Park isn’t going to keep Searcy Parks and Recreation from starting its annual summer Movies Under the Stars slate there next week with a record-setting blast from the past.
“It’s a popular event that people request every year,” Director Mike Parsons said of Movies Under the Stars. “We keep bringing it back and even though construction is going on, we are still going to have it at Berryhil Park. There’s parking up top of Berryhill, there’s the regular parking and then we’re going to talk to ASU-Searcy about them possibly using their parking facilities, too.”
Parks and Recreation is kicking off its outdoor theater experience this year with 2003’s “Finding Nemo” on Friday. The Pixar animated movie about a widowed clownfish searching for his lost son set records that have since been broken for highest-grossing opening weekend and highest-grossing animated film of all time. It also was the first full-length Pixar film to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
Other movies to be shown include “Ghostbusters Afterlife” on June 16 and “Luca” on June 30. The movies begin at dusk.
Searcy Information Technology Department Director Steven Gifford, who also manages the Rialto Theater, said the city will be using a new screen this year for the movies.
“Last year and previous years, we had a PVC structure and we would use bungee cords,” Gifford said. “This year, we have a new air-inflated blow-up screen. It’s a little bit bigger, and we’ve got to change our location at the park a little [because of the construction work] but it’s the small, full sound system.”
Parsons said the movies at Berryhill Park began in 2019 under then-Mayor Kyle Osborne. Attendance is free and popcorn probably will be served. He said he also was getting food trucks lined up along with a shaved ice vendor.
Gifford said the city also is “actually working on having some more fun activities and events before the movie because some of the movies are going to be PG-13. We have a mix of some PG movies and some PG-13 movies but we’re going to have a family fun event before so if families want to come, before every movie there will be just a family time. Come play games, eat food. If you want to, stick around for the movie when it gets dark.”
Those who attend are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets so they are comfortable when watching the movies.
Osborne said in 2019 that he had the idea of holding movies in the park after hearing of another community that had huge success with it.
“I just thought it would go over well in Searcy,” Osborne said then. “Basically, I wanted to do this just to give the younger kids something to do on a Friday night. If they don’t play ball or something like that, it gives them something to do.”
Parsons said then that the city’s goal was to create a kid- and family-friendly atmosphere “to draw more people together.”
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