by Josh Magill
“We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. We must be over the rainbow,” proclaims Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, which was the movie shown at Frederickson’s second family movie night of the summer. The feeling also emanated from the crowd of nearly 200 folks that descended upon the grounds of Sound Life Church Friday night.
The event, hosted by the Frederickson-Clover Creek Community Council twice each summer, is free to the public, but takes some effort by committed volunteer residents to make a reality. This reporter was given a glimpse of that first-hand when I was invited to help erect the custom built movie screen under a glaring sun.
“It really is a nice design,” says Mike Goodell, an F-CCCC event committee member. “Some parts are getting old and need upgraded, but it works well for us on our limited budget.”
Without Goodell, the puzzle of wood, Styrofoam, and fabric might be a struggle to put together. It was his calm, specific direction that allowed our group of mostly retirees to mold the fragments into reality. Despite a leg injury, Goodell quickly moved where needed without complaint, using a traditional black cane and a medical boot on his right foot.
Lifting the final piece into place I muttered, “We need some more thirty-year olds for this.”
F-CCCC Secretary John Marshall offered a quick reply, issued in his engaging deep-toned voice and a smile: “That is why we hired you.”
At thirty-six, I was the youngest of the installers and ironically the one breathing hard as we helped vendors lift tents into place, positioned trash receptacles and hung banners.
“You definitely lose a few pounds working on these events,” remarked Marshall, who maintained a steady pace forged from years of experience.
An hour before the event officially opened, I helped Goodell load the tools into his vehicle and mentioned I would go home to change my shirt before the event.
“I can definitely relate to that,” Goodell said. “The last one was tougher because it was muggy and raining a little on us while we worked. We were dripping when we got done.”
When I returned with my family, I was quickly given an F-CCCC shirt to wear during the event by Marshall, who effortlessly flowed through the crowd greeting folks with conversation and enlightening stories.
Kurt Patterson assumed his position managing the combined tent for the F-CCCC and Friends of Stan and Joan Cross Park with his wife, Pat.
Events committee chair for the F-CCCC, Kate Lowry, mingled and helped wherever needed and displayed a constant smile knowing her children were on their way. Lowry is also the owner of a local restaurant and lounge called Ricky J’s on 176th Street.
“This is always a great event and we couldn’t do it without so many wonderful people,” asserted Lowry. “It is good for families and businesses, but I enjoy bringing my kids.”
Goodell cornered my wife, Angela, to discuss announcements and her introduction as the organization’s new president. (Disclosure: My wife is the recently elected F-CCCC president).
My job throughout most of the night was to keep track of our three young children and supervise the sidewalk chalk area - available for all the children in attendance. You would think I provided the chalk having youngsters, but it was Goodell.
“Let them draw all over down there,” Goodell instructed me. “Big pictures, so they have a good time.”
The inaugural hoola hoop contest was where Goodell’s good-humored nature truly showed as he engaged the gathering with jokes and encouraging comments. He cheered on three age groups of children, awarding prizes such as bottles of soap bubbles, cans of soda and hot dogs. In the adult contest he dubbed one man as “Mr. Sonic” because of his Seattle Supersonics clothing emanating from head to toe. As if on cue, “Mr. Sonic” won the contest by keeping his hoola hoop spinning the longest.
A movie quiz was also presented to the audience with candy prizes given out for correct answers to children questions and adult questions. When asked if anyone could sing the signature song by Dorothy in the movie, a nervous young woman - as evidenced by her visible trembling - was calmed by Goodell enough to surprise all with a wonderful rendition of the first few lines.
“That was fantastic,” toasted Goodell. “You had nothing to be nervous about because that was very nice. You’re a good singer and I loved it.”
On that note, the movie was officially started as dusk fell. The children ‘oooed’ and ‘aaahhed’ when the screen flickered to life at the bottom of the hill where families on blankets sat in the front and those with chairs huddled together in the back.
The cool air moved in during the movie and families moved closer together for warmth. Giggles could be heard as each of Dorothy’s traveling companions were introduced: Scarecrow, Tin-man and the Lion, but shrieks followed sightings of the wicked witch.
As the movie ended, one man said, “I loved that movie as a kid. Definitely worth it to come watch it with my kids.”
The sentiment was echoed by others, but that wasn’t the end of the night for those committed volunteers who had continued working quietly behind the crowd during the movie. With flashlights they helped vendors clean up, load their supplies, and bring down tents.
Then with the movie finished, it was time for the screen to come down. I thought about feigning soreness, jumping in the car and skipping out on the de-construction - but quickly decided they deserved my respect. I moved into action with them, amazed at how quickly the apparatus was dismantled under a blanket of darkness with headlights giving a bit of aid.
Nearly seven hours of volunteer service, and the jokes and smiles continued as F-CCCC Vice President, Dean Absher, efficiently shined his flashlight for Paul Cusato to quickly remove the screws. Jim Wilson, F-CCCC Sergeant at Arms, Marshall and Goodell strategically moved separated pieces into vehicles as if synchronized.
“Alright, I believe we are good to go,” proclaimed Absher. “It was a great night and a lot of fun.”
It was, and on Saturday morning I didn’t have to feign soreness because it was really there. Also, I learned that these events don’t just happen and volunteering isn’t easy, but worth it wherever you live.
© 2012 Josh Magill