Business alliance planning more movie nights

Inaugural event draws estimated 215 to downtown square; 'Guitar Hero' contest considered in future

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

July 25, 2008 - Members of the Sulphur Springs Downtown Business Alliance had one "if" last week when they were planning for Friday's "Free Movie Night" on the city square, the first they've ever held. If enough people showed up, they'd consider having another free movie showing.

Now the question is not if, but when.

"We did have amuch betterturnout than we expected," said Rita Edwards, president of the Downtown Business Alliance. "The weather wasn't that bad, and we passed out fans -- Alliance Bank gave us a box of those fans they had left from the Independence Day concert -- so that helped. Once the sun went down, there was little bit of breeze, which made it fairly nice."

Joy Wilson, another member of the business alliance, agreed the movie night was a "wonderful success."

"We had a good crowd -- approximately 215 -- and we sold hot dogs, ice cream, popcorn and soft drinks," she said. "Everyone seemed to have a good time and enjoyed the beautiful night we had and the good movie."

Edwards said "very, very few left early," and most stayed for the whole showing of "Seabiscuit," the true story of an underdog racing horse who rose to victory against seemingly impossible odds.

"Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and we've had nothing but good feedback," Edwards said.

The goal, of course, was not just to bring people to the square, but also to downtown merchant's stores. Some extended their hours for the event, and Plain 'N' Fancy Sandwich Shoppe and J's Place styed open late for diners.

"The main thing I think we have to work on is a way to improve the traffic in the merchant's stores," said Wilson, adding that there may be other promotions the next time, such as all participating merchants holding sales, or perhaps sidewalk sales.

The question now seems to be, "When is the next one?"

"We had originally planned to do one the third Friday night of August, too, and I think we are still on that game plan," said Edwards.

She said the details will likely be firmed up next Wednesday, July 30, when the business alliance holds its bi-weekly meeting at Judy's Kitchen.

The movie nights may also be paired with another event, such as a Guitar Hero or Rock Star competition, based on the video games that let ordinary people with minimal music skills becomes virtuoso rock musicians. Such a competition would probably take place over four to five weeks, with a small entry fee allowing anyone to compete. There would be eliminations each week until they got down to the last two competitors the last week of the series.

"We could get some really nice prizes -- hopefully donated -- to give to the Champion or Champions," Edwards said.

"If we don't do the Guitar Hero or Rock Star competition, we plan on having some kind of competition related to the movie," Edwards added. "Like with "Seabiscuit" -- had I thought of this earlier, we could have hadstick horse races. If we showed, say, 'Cars,' we could have the kids race Match Box cars or something along those lines -- you know, get the public involved."

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