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Donors trying to save Windsor movie nights

Windsor's outdoor summer movies on the Town Green.

PD File, 2007
Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.

The picture is looking brighter for Windsor's outdoor summer movies, which organizers feared would be canceled due to a drop in sponsorships.

The popular, free Tuesday night movies geared to kids and families was imperiled by a significant gap in the $14,000 it costs to put on.

But in the past few weeks businesses stepped up to reduce the shortfall.

"We were about $8,000 short. We're probably only about $4,000 (short) now," said Bill Verity, the owner of the company that shows the movies on the Town Green and coordinates sponsorships.

"We definitely have closed the gap. I'm certain it won't be canceled at this point," he said.

The Tuesday night series, scheduled to begin June 11, is officially sponsored by the Old Downtown Windsor Merchants Association.

It's been held for the past six years, with each movie drawing anywhere from 200 to 1,500 people, depending on the title and weather.

Verity noted there is an additional large teenage audience, upwards of 500 to 1,000, that comes to socialize and hang out, not to watch the movie.

Windsor Parks and Recreation Director Donna Legge said the movies aren't "a huge economic development generator." But they bring neighbors together and are seen as "building families and offering another choice of something to do in summer."

The Town of Windsor pays for most of the security and police personnel for the event, which totalled $7,700 last year.

"We had a couple fights and presence of gang members. We want to hold strong and make sure it is safe. That's why we increased security and police," Legge said.

The costs of putting on the movies, however, are shouldered by businesses.

That includes rental of the movie system, movie licensing, promotion and other costs.

The movies are projected onto an inflatable screen 28 feet tall and 40 feet wide.

Verity's company, Starry Movie Nights, puts on approximately 300 outdoor movies per year, from Fort Bragg to San Jose.

He also shows outdoor movies in Cloverdale and Petaluma, but said the Windsor Town Green is "really dynamic, the best venue in Sonoma County for having an outdoor movie. People come from all over the region."

While the popularity of outdoor movies has grown steadily with the advent of inflatable screens, he said, other communities have the same challenges getting sponsors.

"We lost some key sponsors," Verity said of Windsor, explaining that this was the first year he had to issue a warning that the movies would be canceled if the money wasn't raised by May 17.

"Yes, it has been a struggle in the past. But not this late in the game," he said. "I do have some businesses interested in seeing if they can fit some level of sponsorship into their budget. I'm optimistic we'll make it."

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com.

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