July 16, 2018
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Free family movies this summer

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
June 22, 2018

Residents of Cotati and Rohnert Park have several options for seeing family movies this summer, giving families some fun activities that are free or low-cost. Not only are the movies cheaper than renting one at home, but they are a great way to spend some family time together and, in some cases, enjoy some time outside under the stars.

The Rohnert Park library kicked off their summer cinema series June 18, and will offer another movie night July 18 at 6 p.m. The July movie, sponsored by the Rohnert Park Friends of the Library, is still to be determined but is sure to please all ages. Snacks will also be provided.

Sonoma State University, presented in part by Sonoma State University Student Involvement, will again be offering “Free Movies on the Green” this summer. It is kicking off June 29 at 7 p.m. with the movie “Coco.” 

“Movies have been a regular part of Sonoma State University Student Involvement programming for years,” says Kathryn Stewart, Associate Director of Communications of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. “The series at the Green Music Center, which started in 2014, is an extension of the Student Involvement programming, produced through a partnership between Sonoma State and the Green Music Center.”

Attendees are encouraged to pack a picnic and lay out on Weill Lawn as movies are screened on their outdoor jumbotron. A double feature will be shown July 22, starting at 3 p.m. with the 2014 version of “Annie,” followed by “The Greatest Showman.” On August 5 another double feature will be shown, “The Lion King” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

“With the jumbotron deployed all summer long on the outside rear wall of the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall, movie streaming seemed a natural fit and a perfect opportunity,” says Stewart. “It created more space for the students to hang out, a chance for students who have never visited this part of campus to be a part of our programming and the possibility for surrounding communities to join in on the fun.”

The City of Cotati is again hosting their free movies in La Plaza park throughout the summer, starting with “Despicable Me 3” Friday June 22. Each month will feature a different movie, with “The Lego Ninjago” movie playing July 20, “Peter Rabbit” on August 24 and “Coco” September 14. Each show will begin about 15 minutes after sunset, usually around 8:45 p.m. Participants are encouraged to come early and bring a picnic and enjoy other activities before the show. Refreshments will also be available for purchase.

“Starting around 6 p.m. we’ll have things that people can do,” says Ashley Wilson, Recreation Coordinator for the City of Cotati. “We’ll have a bounce house coming and I’m working on getting a face painter. We’ll also have some lawn games out so they’re not just sitting there for two hours.”

New this year is a much larger screen, sponsored by PG&E, which allows for a much larger audience.

“We got a bigger screen this year,” says Wilson. “It’s a 20-foot screen so we will be able to reach more people and have the view go farther out. I know that last year there were some people that had a hard time seeing it so we got a new one that is larger. We’re really excited to have that and hopefully serve more people with it.”

In the past the city borrowed a screen that had viewing for 425 people. The new, larger screen provides viewing for 800 people. 

“I think it’s really nice to sit in such a beautiful setting and watch a movie with your family under the stars,” says Wilson. “We live in such a beautiful area and have the perfect weather to do that. I love seeing families together and it’s perfect for all ages.”

In addition to the Friday night movies, a free movie will also be presented in Cotati on National Night Out, a community-police awareness-raising event held throughout the United States. The event is always held the first Tuesday of August, this year on August 7. In addition to showing the movie “Sherlock Gnomes,” the event in La Plaza Park will include a free BBQ hamburger dinner sponsored by the police department, lawn games and bounce houses and a giant slide.

For the fourth year, Reading Cinemas in Rohnert Park is offering their “Reel Kids” program, offering $1 movies on select Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10 a.m. throughout the summer. The program kicks off June 20 and 21 with a showing of “Boss Baby,” followed by the “Lego Batman Movie” June 27 and 28. In July the theatre will offer “Happy Feet” July 3 and 5. Other movies in July include “Kung Fu Panda” July 11 and 12, “Sing” July 18 and 19, and “Despicable Me 3” July 25 and 26. August brings “Shrek 2” August 1 and 2, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” August 8 and 9 and “The Secret Life of Pets” August 15 and 16.