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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outdoor movies will return to Riverfront Park this summer with free film series

The Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Dorothy and the Tin Woodman appear in the 1939 classic film, “The Wizard of Oz.” The movie will be shown Aug. 7 as part of a free outdoor movie series hosted in Riverfront Park, the city’s Parks Department announced Wednesday. (Associated Press)

Riverfront Park will play host to outdoor movies this summer, after all.

The Spokane Parks Department announced Wednesday a new partnership that will bring eight free films to the Lilac Bowl in the downtown park beginning June 12. That comes a little more than a month after a previous event organizer announced its intention not to renew a series that had been hosted in Riverfront Park since 2013.

Movies will begin at 8:30 p.m. and will not require entry fees, according to a news release from the city. The first planned showing will be the 1993 romantic comedy “Benny and Joon,” a film that features many scenes shot at iconic locations in Spokane, including Ferguson’s Cafe and the Peaceful Valley Neighborhood.

Other films include animated features “Zootopia,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and “Toy Story,” as well as more adult-themed fare with Mel Brooks’ “Star Wars” spoof “Spaceballs” and the cult classic Coen brothers comedy “The Big Lebowski.” All films will show Wednesday nights during the summer, with the exception of June 26, the Wednesday before Hoopfest.

The Parks Department quickly began planning for an outdoor movie series after the announcement that Epic Events would not be returning this summer, said Amy Lindsey, programming and marketing manager for Riverfront Park.

“People were bummed, we just saw this as we needed to do this,” she said.

That included gathering input on Facebook about which films to show. All movies were selected with input from visitors online, Lindsey said.

Families are encouraged to bring their own food, lawn chairs or blankets. Vendors will also be on hand to sell food, which includes popcorn and pizza, Lindsey said. Full offerings will be posted online and could include a food truck, she said. Alcohol is not permitted at the showings.

The event’s main sponsor is WSECU, an Olympia-based credit union with branches in Spokane, Spokane Valley and Medical Lake. Other sponsors include Lime, the company behind the rental scooters and bikes on the city’s streets and sidewalks, iHeartMedia and FunFlicks, a national outdoor movie rental company.

Park staff will be on hand during the screening of the movies, and the Parks Department will pay FunFlicks to set up the equipment and run the films.