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Blues Brothers - all the epic lines
Jake and Elwood Blues are coming to Chimborazo. No, it’s not some High On The Hog variant but The Blues Brothers are one of the features to be shown during the summer outdoor film series inaugurated some five years ago by Church Hill resident John Chapman. The Blues Brothers will show, somehow appropriately, on the Summer Equinox, the longest day of the year, June 21.
How Chimborazo Hill received the name of an Ecuadoran Andean volcano isn’t quite clear, but it became one of the city’s first “promontory parks” in 1874 through the good offices of city engineer Wilfred Emory Cutshaw. Today, it is one of Richmond’s most public of green spaces and layered with history and possessing grand vistas of the river and city below.
“About eight years ago, I moved to Church Hill after a divorce,” Chapman says. “As could be expected, I was floundering a bit and, quickly found my footing in the comforting friendship of my neighbors, the great people of Church Hill. I think the seeds of the park group grew from neighborhood cookouts and afternoons spent playing croquet and bocce.” As the gatherings grew, Chapman considered a way to repay neighbors “for their overwhelming generosity and to spread this community spirit even further.”
He partnered with the City Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, and Enrichmond to create Friends of Chimborazo Park to focus preservation and phased improvements.
“We recently discovered that Chimborazo Park was the first park locally to remove the Do Not Walk on the Grass signs and the first park in Richmond to screen outdoor movies,” Chapman says. ”Over the years, Friends of Chimborazo has expanded its goals to include fostering a better sense of community through the holding of events like the Chimbolympics [a day of park games followed by a cookout] and our Free Movie Nights.”
In the past year, FOC partnered with Richmond Rotary Clubs to landscape the around the pavilion where the movies are shown. Using private funds and volunteer labor, the group planted 25 cherry trees in the park along with about 80 roses and some 1000 spring bulbs. “We hope to transform this portion into a garden oasis in the middle of the much larger park,” Chapman says.
People, at present, bring their own refreshments to the events. However, Chapman wants to increase the movies this year and expand the audience by bringing in food trucks. Future plans also include creating a three-day film festival that can both highlight locally produced shorts and expose the audience to classic films they might not have seen on a movie screen before.
But you can’t just take a movie like Raiders of the Lost Ark and show it in the public. It takes planning and, well, money to pay for rights.
The group originally partnered with the Yellow House theater company (FOC was introduced to them by community member Melissa Gropman) for the screen, projector and sound system. When Yellow House moved, the Chimborazans purchased their equipment. They’ve shown Raiders of the Lost Ark, Goonies, Breaking Away and Casablanca.
Chapman explains, “Now all we have to do is reserve the park and fundraise to pay the movie licensing fees, which run between $150 and $250 for older movies and up to $400 or more for new ones. These fees are raised through donations of neighbors and local businesses. While the city supports our efforts in other ways, they do not contribute financially.”
Thus, there is a search for sponsorships. Dates aren’t yet secured, but there is sponorship for a July showing of the Hitchcock classic North By Northwest and for August, To Catch A Thief.
This is summer in Richmond, so there may be insect issues. But it is hoped, nothing quite as pesky as what confronts Cary in this scene from North By Northwest.
“The idea behind this is to create a family friendly outdoor experience,” Chapman says. “Many of the films we show haven’t been on a local movie screen for years. Others are just campy flashbacks to childhood. But there is something special about seeing a film under the stars.”
And no sticky floors.
Friends Of Chimborazo don’t yet have a web presence, but anyone with questions can contact Chapman at: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no indication of divine intercession, nor will there be as wanton a destruction of property as shown here. And probably no one will "Shoosh" you if you repeat the lines. (Viewer discretion advised)