Will SummerStarz kids movies at East River State Park be back?

May 31, 2013 Heather Chin
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Will SummerStarz kids movies be coming back to East River State Park (ERSP) this summer? The NY State Parks Department says yes, but North Brooklyn residents are not quite sure.

According to State Parks Department spokesperson Randy Simons, movies will indeed be returning to ERSP this June, with help from an as-yet-determined community-based organization.

“State Parks has been on the record saying there will be movies and right now, we’re just reviewing the best way to make that happen,” said Simons. “Within the next week to 10 days, we will make the announcement of what movies will be showing and who we will be partnering with.”

It is rumored that the selected organization is Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG), but that had not been confirmed as of press time.

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The goal, Simons added, is to start the movies in mid-June, possibly around the third week. “The program has been a success so we’re going to try and mimic that as much as possible,” he said.

However, some parents are unsure as to what and who to believe, particularly as Town Square, the community nonprofit that organized SummerStarz since 2005 — first in McCarren Park, then in ERSP, may not be returning in the role.

“I heard that there will be no kids movies in ERSP this summer [because] the state won’t work with Town Square organizers who ran these movies for years,” said Jonathan Burkan, whose five-year-old and three-year-old “love” the  summer screenings of animated classics the likes of “Ice Age,” Kung Fu Panda 2,” “Wall-E” and “Toy Story 3.”

“We went to kids birthday parties and even weddings in the park last year and it was great,” the dad of two added. “People with small kids need local public parks. It’s so sad that the state gets thousands of dollars a weekend from Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea, [plus] electrical improvements, but they can’t have kids movies.”

As of May 24, Town Square had not heard anything official one way or another from the state Parks Department. “As of now, there aren’t going to be movies [from us],” said Susan Anderson, chair of Town Square. “Regarding a new location [or community partner], anything is possible.”

The two groups, along with elected officials, last met in person in December 2012. Now, Assemblymember Joseph Lentol is optimistic.

“During the late winter when it was clear that SummerStarz would not move forward at the East River State Park, I spoke with NYS Parks Regional Office staff to emphasize that providing movies for our families was very important.  They assured me they would work toward that goal,” said Lentol. “My understanding is that the permit necessary for showing movies has been approved and the NYS Park’s Department and a long-time neighborhood organization will shortly announce a family movie series which I believe everyone will be happy to see.”

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