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BALLSTON SPA: Outdoor screen goes dark

The curtain has closed on the first outdoor movie season in Ballston Spa's Wiswall Park with the Friday, Oct. 5, finale of Little Shop of Horrors.

Sponsored by the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association (BSBPA), the movies, which were shown on the first Friday of the month beginning June 1 included: "Peter Pan," "His Girl Friday," "Jack and the Beanstalk" with Abbott and Costello, "Gulliver's Travels" and the "Little Shop of Horrors."

The largest group of about 100 showed up with their lawn chairs and blankets for "Peter Pan," and there was only one show postponed due to inclement weather. Union Fire Company offered $1 soda and popcorn on several nights.

BSBPA member Daniel DeFabio thought up and coordinated the movie program, and even set up a link on the association's Web site for people to vote for their favorite movie.

"We were limited by what was in the public domain because these films don't require royalty payments and all kinds of legal agreements," said DeFabio. "This was the easiest way to keep the cost of the free movies to a minimum. The exception was 'Peter Pan,' which I was able to get as a promotional deal from a friend with connections at Disney."

At each film people would request movies unaware that organizers had limited options, so they were asked to vote among the classics.

The voting choices included: "The 39 Steps," a 1935 black-and-white Alfred Hitchcock film; "McLintock!" a 1963 John Wayne film; "The Last Man on Earth," a 1964 Vincent Price movie; the 1960 Jack Nicholson version of "Little Shop of Horrors;" Spencer Tracy's 1951 "Father's Little Dividend;" 1945 Charles Laughton "Captain Kidd;" 1917 Charlie Chaplin shorts; 1963 "Sword of Lancelot;" and 1939 "Gulliver's Travels."

"My 12 year-old daughter and I attended every movie and we loved it," said Ellen Mottola.

DeFabio said he hopes to work with the Ballston Spa Public Library during the months ahead. The library has a program and can show movies for a reasonable fee, but they can't show movies outdoors.

"Next summer hope to get sponsors so we can show recent movies," said DeFabio. ""

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