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La Jolla enjoys movies under the stars at Scripps Park: Movies by the Sea with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “March of the Penguins”

La Jolla Movies by the Sea is back once again this year, only this time with a double feature.

La Jolla Parks and Recreation, Inc. and Promote La Jolla, Inc., the community’s business Improvement District, are teaming up for the third time in four years to present a free, public viewing of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” on Friday, Aug. 3, and “March of the Penguins,” on Sunday, Aug. 5, both at Ellen Browning Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove.

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a serio-comic cross between “Meet the Parents” and “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” with a touch of souvlakia flavoring thrown in, is about a single Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek, a no-no to her strict family - especially her commanding mother and her traditional father.

“March of the Penguins” is an Oscar-winning documentary featuring award-winning photographer Luc Jacquet, whose first feature film is a moving, insider’s look chronicling the life of emperor penguins in Antarctica who endure in the world’s most hostile environment. The film presents never-before-captured footage of the penguins’ underwater life and explores their steadfast quest for monogamous mates.

The movies will be shown after sundown starting about 8:10 p.m. on a giant, inflatable movie screen.

On both nights, live entertainment will be provided from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Friday, Aug. 3, Tinku, a Latin American air pipe group often seen in the Village outside Hotel Parisi on Prospect Street, will perform. Sunday night’s entertainers will be The Steel Monarchs from the Monarch School in San Diego for homeless and underprivileged children.

Tiffany Sherer, Promote La Jolla’s executive director, said Movies by the Sea is not a fund-raiser, but is intended for community outreach. “It’s a great family friendly event at Scripps Park, a great way for the family to grab a picnic dinner from stores like Jonathon’s and come down to the park for a great nighttime experience to enjoy our beautiful community,” Sherer said. “It’s great for our merchants to have people, maybe some from outside the community, come and experience La Jolla.”

Until now, the movie event has been held on a single midsummer’s evening. Sherer said plans are in the works to extend that schedule in the future. “At some point we’d like to get it to four Fridays in August,” she said. “That’s the goal.”

Movies By The Sea, noted Sherer, is part of Promote La Jolla’s annual event mix. Other major events the Business Improvement District sponsors during the year include the La Jolla Gallery and Wine Walk on Sept. 27 and the Motor Car Classic to be held at the Cove Jan. 13, 2008.

Hobe Schroeder, treasurer and past president of La Jolla Parks and Recreation, Inc.'s board, which co-sponsors Movies by the Sea, said grants were received from two local legislator’s offices to cover the cost of hosting the free event. “County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price’s office came through with a grant of $5,000,” Schroeder said, “and (Council President) Scott Peter’s office gave a donation of $3,500 - just enough money for two movies.”

Schroeder added the movies are being screened so closely together because that was the only time which fit in with the schedule of Starlight Movie Company of St. Louis, Mo., which provides the huge inflatable screen to show the outdoor film.

The idea for hosting Movies By The Sea followed the closure of the Cove Theater in 2003.

“Since the Cove Theater closed,” said Schroeder, “there has not been a single theater in the Village. It’s been a very popular event for people. There is no site as well suited for this as Scripps Park. People just come and watch the sunset and bring some picnic supplies and sit down and be entertained before the movies.”

Previous films shown at Movies by The Sea were “City Slickers,” a comedy starring Billy Crystal, and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” starring a youthful Harrison Ford.

Christine Kociela, owner of Starlight Movie Company of St. Louis, said her company was pleased to be offered the opportunity to set up shop on the West Coast. She added Starlight’s inflatable movie screen is huge, 40 -foot by 40-foot, offering a 6500 Lumen digital projector that gives theater-quality sight and sound outdoors.

Kociela said the deflated screen, which is almost three stories tall, actually shrinks down to the point where it can be transported in the back of a mini-van. It also inflates relatively easily and quickly. “We’ve got two high-powered fans that fit in the back of the screen that blows it up within a few minutes,” she said.

Starlight has used the inflatable screen to serve a variety of groups including park organizations, colleges and churches at numerous venues. “It has a lot of applications,” Kociela added, “especially for warm-weather outside events.”

Starlight has been expanding into the Midwest and is seeking new business there. Kociela said her company saw a way to supply a need the public was demanding. “We’re one of the few to provide this type of service,” she said. “We saw a need in the marketplace. Everybody enjoys movies. We’re a division of Entertainment St. Louis, which does concerts and festivals for clients.”

La Jolla Parks & Rec and Promote La Jolla are also asking for volunteers to remain after the conclusion of the movie on Sunday, Aug. 5 to help with trash pickup from the event.

president of La Jolla Parks and Recreation, Inc.'s board, which co-sponsors Movies by the Sea, said grants were received from two local legislator’s offices to cover the cost of hosting the free event. “County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price’s office came through with a grant of $5,000,” Schroeder said, “and (Council President) Scott Peters’ office gave a donation of $3,500 - just enough money for two movies.”

Schroeder added the movies are being screened so closely together because that was the only time which fit in with the schedule of Starlight Movie Company of St. Louis, Mo., which provides the huge inflatable screen to show the outdoor film.

The idea for hosting Movies By The Sea followed the closure of the Cove Theater in 2003.

“Since the Cove Theater closed,” said Schroeder, “there has not been a single theater in the Village. It’s been a very popular event for people. There is no site as well suited for this as Scripps Park. People just come and watch the sunset and bring some picnic supplies and sit down and be entertained before the movies.”

La Jolla Parks & Rec and Promote La Jolla are also asking for volunteers to remain after the conclusion of the movie on Sunday, Aug. 5 to help with trash pickup from the event.