Drive-ins may be gone, but you can still catch plenty of flicks outdoors - Omaha.com
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“Ferris Bueller's Day Off” plays on the screen at River's Edge Park in Council Bluffs last week. The park had special movie screenings as part of Loessfest. People came from both sides of the river for the movie.(KENT SIEVERS / THE WORLD-HERALD)
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Crowds at River's Edge Park in Council Bluffs watch "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on June 5.(KENT SIEVERS / THE WORLD-HERALD)


Drive-ins may be gone, but you can still catch plenty of flicks outdoors
By Bob Fischbach | World-Herald staff writer


Maybe it's a coincidence, but ...

The last drive-in movie theater in the metro area, the Council Bluffs Drive-In, closed in 2006.

That next summer, free outdoor movie screenings began at Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs, and concerts with a free movie started in the Holland Center's courtyard in downtown Omaha.

Outdoor movie schedule, summer 2013


All movies start at dusk (around 9 p.m.). Music starts at 7 p.m. in La Vista, 7:30 p.m. at the Holland

Sumtur Amphitheater, Papillion
11691 S. 108th St.

• June 21: “The Lorax”
• July 26: “Wreck-It Ralph”
• Aug. 16: “Madagascar 3”

Midtown Crossing, Omaha
Turner Park, 30th and Farnam Streets

• June 17: “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”
• June 24: “Back to the Future”
• July 1: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone”
• July 8: “Hook”
• July 15: “Ghostbusters”
• July 22: “Up”
• July 29: “Wreck-It Ralph”

Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs
Sixth Street and First Avenue

• June 14: “The Lorax”
• June 21: “The Odd Life of Tmothy Green”
• June 28: “Hotel Transylvania”
• July 12: “Here Comes the Boom”
• July 19: “Men in Black 3”
• July 26: “Brave”
• Aug. 2: “Escape From Planet Earth”
• Aug. 9: “The Avengers”

La Vista Public Library
9110 Giles Road

• July 12: Quartus and “Back to the Future”
• Aug. 9: Blue House and “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”

Holland Center, Omaha
12th and Douglas Streets

• July 12: Dani Cleveland and “Ferris Bueller's Day Off”
• July 19: Tribute to John Denver and “Forrest Gump”
• July 26: Omaha Girls Rock and “Finding Nemo”

Now at least five public venues in the metro area offer free summer movies under an open sky.

People still love to catch a flick in the great outdoors. As was often the case with drive-in movies, the fresh-air screenings are a popular family activity.

“It's a chance to spend quality time with your family,” said Geoff Hubbard, recreation superintendent for the City of Council Bluffs. “And Bayliss Park is a great location. Lots of people in that neighborhood walk there. Plus it's free.”

Kendra Ingram, vice president of programming and education for Omaha Performing Arts, said she and her staff try to choose movies for the Holland that families might not have seen in a while. Attendance is usually between 300 and 700, she said.

“We've tended to attract a family audience of all ages,” Ingram said. “And because it's free programming, we try to choose music we don't have a series (of OPA events) for.”

While events at the Holland Center and the La Vista Public Library pair a live-music concert with their free movies, other venues such as Sumtur Amphitheater, Bayliss Park and Turner Park have separate free music events on different nights.

Either way, families have come to love it.

“I love movie nights at Sumtur because it feels like the olden days — community members coming together to enjoy each other, the entertainment and the beautiful outdoors,” said Barb Copenhaver Thornburg of Papillion. “It's a great chance to spend time with people you know and make new friends.”

Thornburg said her family has sometimes gone together, but as their kids got older, the free movies at Sumtur became a date night for them. Barb and husband Mark sometimes go with other adult friends now.

“I love to sit outside,” she said. “The little kids are free to run and roll down the hill. You can get up, buy a soft drink and sit back down without disturbing anybody. And I love the people-watching factor of it all.”

Hubbard said the Bayliss Park screenings generally draw 300 to 500 people.

“It doesn't really matter what the movie is,” he said. “It's time with family, neighbors and friends, and it's free.”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1269, bob.fischbach@owh.com

Outdoor movies in the backyard

When the weather is nice in Nate Driml's neighborhood, it's time for movies.

During spring and summer of the last three years, block parties and birthday celebrations have often included a movie screening outdoors.

Driml has three children between the ages of 4 and 7, and he estimates that the Crimson Ridge neighborhood has 25 children under the age of 13. Hosting a barbecue and showing a movie after sundown is much easier than getting a baby sitter and going out to dinner.

“It's wonderful,” he said. “Bring your own blanket and a lawn chair.”

Friends in the neighborhood have shown “The Muppets,” “Grease” and other kid-friendly movies with a movie projector and a blanket, screen or the side of someone's house. When the movie is on, the children settle down and watch while the adults chat and share cocktails.

When the kids find out an outdoor movie is coming up, they'll talk about it all week. Last year, one of the get togethers ended with a showing of “Grease,” which the kids kept referring to as “Sandy and Danny.”

“We had a bunch of 5-, 6- and 7-year-old Olivia Newton-Johns running around all the next week,” Driml said.

-- Kevin Coffey

Contact the writer: Bob Fischbach

bob.fischbach@owh.com    |   402-444-1269

Bob reviews movies and local theater productions and writes stories about those topics, as well.

Read more stories by Bob


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Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

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