Last updateWed, 17 Jan 2018 2pm


Downtown movie nights revive fantasy heroes of childhoods past

Town Crier File Photo
“Harry Potter” films draw hundreds of movie-goers to Main Street each August as part of the city’s Friday Movie Nights series. This year the series goes deep into the childhood fantasy canon, with villains from decades past joining the Malfoys in the lineup.

Los Altos’ free outdoor movie nights light up starting Friday evening, and this year’s roster of films introduces young viewers to high-flying, witch-battling, sorcerous adventures spanning the last century. The lineup will also likely delight parents who’ve gone too long without remembering Falkor and Atreyu, Mr. Tumnus the Faun and, of course, Dorothy.

The Los Altos Village Association (LAVA) hoists a screen across Main Street for Friday Movie Nights as families spread out blankets, chairs and picnics at downtown’s core. Beginning at 6 p.m., bounce houses, a face painter and a balloon artist entertain children, and stores and restaurants remain open across downtown.

Friday evening, local merchants and other First Friday organizers are sponsoring a “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”-themed scavenger hunt to complement the first film of the season, “The Wizard of Oz.” LAVA plans to offer movie theater-type snacks on-site, and the curtain rises at 8:30 p.m.

In the weeks after “The Wizard of Oz,” LAVA has scheduled “The Indian in the Cupboard (Aug. 8), “The NeverEnding Story” (Aug. 15), the BBC adaptation of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (Aug. 22) and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (Aug. 29).

Themed family activities precede each film – after the “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” scavenger hunt, LAVA has scheduled a craft night for “The Indian in the Cupboard,” a favorite stuffed animal show-and-tell for “The NeverEnding Story,” a mythical creature bingo game for “Narnia” and a costume night for “Harry Potter.”

LAVA has hosted the summer film series for more than a decade. The organization acquired its own audio/visual equipment in the early days of the event.

“I’ve had many calls over the years wanting to know how we do it,” LAVA Executive Director Nancy Dunaway said, noting that the movie-night phenomenon has spread through neighboring cities. “It’s just so much fun – it’s Americana. The moment 6 o’clock hits, people are running out with their blankets and chairs.”

The series attracts anywhere from 400 to 700 participants, as families return from holidays and the event crescendos in the waning days of summer.

“It’s just such a fun lineup,” Dunaway said. “The kids have not seen many of these movies. When we showed ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ two years ago, the kids were clapping and cheering. We’re showing movies they just aren’t seeing on their iPads each day.”

For more information, visit downtownlosaltos.org.

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