Families watch Harry Potter under the stars at city-hosted movie nights


Daily file photo by David Fishman

Starlight Concert in 2016. Starlight Movies bring together Evanston families to view a movie in a peaceful natural park area.

Astry Rodriguez, Reporter

Evanston families gathered in Lovelace Park last weekend to watch “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” under a starlit sky with booming surround sound. 

Saturday night’s showing was the second-to-last event of the year of Evanston’s Starlight Movies in the Park series, a community engagement effort by the Evanston Parks and Recreation and Community Services Departments that began in early August and has run for over a decade. 

The initiative presents films in different parks, available each week for free until Oct. 8.

Attendee Domenica Frenzel said she liked that the city showed “Harry Potter” during the fall season given the movie’s whimsical themes and portrayals of gloomy fall weather. 

“It’s something wonderful that brings the community together and it’s a happy, magic movie and sort of perfect for this season,” Frenzel said. “My daughter is a big fan, and we try to come to the showings of the movies over the summer — one or two — and this was perfect.”

About 50 people spread out on lawn chairs and sprawled out blankets in the grassy area. One small group even set up a miniature tent.

Frenzel said she intentionally waited to come to Starlight Movies in the Park for the “Harry Potter” showing because she is a big fan. Her daughter had to talk her out of wearing a witch hat to the event, she said. 

Frenzel said her daughter attended in her Wizarding World-themed robe, sporting her wand alongside her friends, who dressed in Gryffindor attire. 

The Parks and Recreation Department implemented the movie series using the general grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, according to Executive Director of the Illinois Arts Council Agency Joshua Davis-Ruperto.

“This GOS grant is offered to established not-for-profit organizations that make a significant local, regional or statewide impact on the quality of life in Illinois,” Davis-Ruperto said in an email to The Daily. “Evanston Parks and Recreation has historically been reviewed favorably by panelists from throughout the state.”

Evanston resident Anne Schankin said the “Harry Potter” showing was her third time attending one of Starlight’s movies this year. Schankin and her husband live close to Lovelace Park and are happy for the chance to see them late in the day.

Schankin said it’s also a great opportunity to be involved in city efforts aiming to spark joy and unity. 

“It’s a space for the community to come together and watch a nice movie outside,” Schankin said. “I think it creates opportunities to realize that the city is welcoming and is interested in putting programming out for families.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @Astry_tpwk

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