Image San Diegans are more familiar with Balboa Park when it comes to watching free movies on the lawn. Summer brings the largely anticipated event where I, along with masses of other free moviegoers, lug our chairs, blankets and coolers battling the traffic and the limited lawn space. Enjoying a wonderful movie at one of San Diego’s finest and most famous parks.

A park so famous that if you are in a plane flying into San Diego about to touch down, you could look north outside your window as the landing gear is lowered and the air-brakes are engaged, and catch a glimpse of the lush landscapes and architecture that is only seen at Balboa Park.

Why can’t all parks establish this routine and allow citizens to enjoy movies on the lawn of their local park? Free movies with the star lit sky as your rooftop. Otay Mesa Recreation Council proudly threw their first ever Movies in the Park at Silver Wing Recreation Center on Friday September 23rd, 2011. They showed the children’s film, Disney’s “Tangled”. It’s good to know that during a time of budget cuts, the City of San Diego is providing new events at the Silver Wing Recreation Center.

In the past, Otay Mesa and particularly Silver Wing Park were not exactly places people typically strolled around after sundown with their family. However it is the ability of the community to organize events such as this one and the September 17th Block Party when the stigma attached to the neighborhood dissolves. I’ve had some negative experiences growing up, nothing too serious.

Once, a kid stole my brother’s bike blatantly out of our garage as I played with my friend on our front lawn. As I ran to tell my mom, she shushed me for what felt like ten minutes until she finished her conversation on the old rotary telephones with the chords that always presented themselves as dangerous tools of entanglement. I’m happy to say the bike was eventually returned, but we were leery to leave our garage open even with us outside.

My 5-month-old daughter will have her own memories and thankfully because of events like this one, she’ll know our neighborhood as somewhere safe. A place where families can congregate at night to watch films on an inflatable big screen in the same part of grass where I muffed those pop flies my brother in law hit to me at a family barbeque. Image

We planned arriving before Tangled began, but babies sometimes have a way of dictating their own plans. We arrived just as the movie was starting. Already there was a large crowd of approximately 100 people. More latecomers arrived as I overheard one woman say they first went to the wrong park. Then she was on the phone giving directions to the rest of her party as they settled their lawn chairs in the back of the group a few feet behind second base.

At her age, my daughter loves the outdoors and she is even more fascinated by the flashy lights on all her toys. Watching the big screen under the night sky was such a soothing experience she feel asleep faster than we expected. My wife and I didn’t complain as this gave us an opportunity to fight over the remaining nachos we purchased from the concession stand.

Neighborhoods are a lot like people in that they can overcome hard times and turn themselves around. Forgiven for past mistakes. The heart and the lifeblood of communities are its citizens.

I remember my neighborhood as one that was prone to crime, but thanks to events like the Block Party and the Movies in the Park, my view now but most importantly my daughter’s and the younger generation’s view is mostly positive. We too can have pride in our community and show up in numbers to watch movies with the family.

Movies in the Park at Silver Wing Recreation Center may never draw the crowds like Balboa Park’s Screen on the Green, but they’ll have their own local twist. The second Movie in the Park at Silver Wing is “Rio” and is scheduled for October 28th. Being so close to Halloween, the baby might have to wear her costume for her first Halloween Movie in the Park experience.

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