By Julie Meyer Taylor

IMG_6314 (1)On October 8, 2016, my family attended Movie Night in Royal Palm Park. Two of my boys rode on skateboards, one wore roller blades, and I walked behind them carrying a huge blanket and yelling out safety warnings. “Watch out for cars! Stay on the sidewalk!” After half a mile, we arrived at the park, located at Butler and 15th Avenue.

As I was scoping out the field looking for the perfect spot, I ran into an old friend from high school and noticed many other familiar faces. The sky was a beautiful, cloud-filled pink. In the middle of the park was a large white movie screen, and everyone was setting up lawn chairs and unpacking coolers. I put our blanket down in the grass, and we used the skateboards and helmets to save spaces for our friends.

My boys were hungry, but I didn’t want to leave our stuff unattended, so I gave them money and let them walk over to the food trucks in the parking lot. “Stay together! Bring me back my change!” I said. “Okay, Mom!” they replied.

About ten minutes later, I looked up and saw a policeman walking toward me. He was smiling and holding my 11-year-old’s green rollerblades. My son was walking in front of him, looking amused, but also slightly guilty. He was balancing his Dr. Pepper, grilled cheese sandwich, a wad of dollars, and a pile of napkins in his arms. I smiled at the police officer, “Thanks for helping him!” I said. “No problem!” he answered.

My husband and friends arrived, the sun went down, and we relaxed with the neighborhood ants and watched “The Princess Bride.” Well, at least I did. About fifty yards from the screen, my boys found friends and an empty expanse of grass. Instead of watching the movie, they played rugby. “Play touch! Don’t play tackle! No injuries!” I warned.

While the movie played, I sat next to my neighbor’s daughters (ages 4 and 6) who provided hilarious and adorable commentary. “Fezzik is kind of a bad guy, but he offers a lot of grace. He gives his enemies lots of chances before he kills them.” And later, “I don’t like that big rat.”

The movie shut off a few times, and each time the audience let out a collective groan. It was like we were in an old-time movie theater. I imagined Hilary Rusk sitting in the back, pasting the newsreel back together. Each time the movie turned back on, the audience cheered with joy. 

It was a beautiful, entertaining night in the park. Thank you to Hilary Rusk and the Royal Palm neighborhood for making our home feel like a small town. Thank you to the local police for making it feel safe. Thank you to the food trucks for providing a variety of food options. Thank you to the the volunteers who helped make the evening enjoyable. Movie Night was a great success. I can’t wait for the next one.

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