The showing of Tobe Hooper’s classic horror film “Poltergeist” ushered in the end of the eighth Free Cinema Series at the Water Street Market on Monday night, Aug. 31. Many nights each summer, locals come together with their own chairs and food to experience cinema in an open and friendly environment, for free, once a week with a setup in front of the Antique Center. Examples of films they’ve shown this summer are “The Royal Tanenbaums,” “The Blues Brothers” and “Pay It Foward.”
“We always like to end the series with a thriller… something to give everybody a thrill,” Teresa Falls, Owner of Water Street’s Jar’d Wine Pub, said. Falls was the mastermind behind the Free Cinema Series funded by Water Street Market.
While it started as an event ran by an organization known as Arts For Peace which showed only independent and documentary films, the series has become something very different. Water Street Market pays for the licensing rights to the films while film technician Carl Welden, who works in media broadcasting and has been with the cinema series since its inception in 2008, brings and assembles the sound speakers, the projector and the screen for the event.
“This isn’t some cinema with explosions bleeding through the walls,” Welden said. “All we’ve got is the projector, the screen and the sound of crickets chirping.”
Despite a lack of advertising for the event, Welden said that word of mouth is what keeps the event going.
“There is a social aspect to this…” Welden said “People come very early and stay very late after to discuss the films and socialize. Sometimes we get [nearly] 300 people”.
All proceeds from popcorn sales of the evening were donated to local non-profit organization Family of New Paltz. Dawn Elliot, a member of the group for the past three years, said she loves the event because of the friendly nature of the townspeople. Elliot recalled one evening where there were issues with the popcorn machine and an electrician in the audience helped her with it.
“It isn’t really about money, but mainly the social aspect.” Elliot said. “However the candy store, without a doubt does amazing business on nights like these.”
Some businesses that stayed open for a portion of the event were Candy Candy, Kosiner Brothers’ Fry Shack and Teresa Fall’s Pub.
“For a time this summer we doubted we were going to do it again,” Welden said. “But we realized its growing popularity and decided to run it again.”
Before the film screened, Falls and Welden spoke to the audience, thanking them for all the support, asking them to be respectful by cleaning up after each other once the film was over and asking for any donations to help fund the market’s plans for entertaining the town in the future.
As of now, Water Street Market has plans for doing the series again next year.