A few months ago a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about San Antonio’s Cycle-In Cinema being a great success. After reading it, I thought to myself, “We can do that!”. It was a neat idea that could work here in the Rio Grande Valley. I’ve been to other outdoor movie venues in the Sharyland area and enjoyed watching the free movies outside. Those events were well attended so I knew it could work again but this time with a cycling element. I had visions of cycling power games before the movie to see who could generate the most power. Similar to the old carnival games of ringing the bell with that sledge-hammer. Or maybe charging the batteries on the generator and the movie won’t start until the batteries are topped off. Or just cycle to provide the power to the projector with one or two intermissions to change out cyclists. To me, that sound like fun and with those ideas in mind, I threw down the gauntlet and put forth the challenge. “Make it happen!”, I said.
Soon we were exchanging emails and ideas on what to do and how to do it. This eventually progressed to a meetings with interested parties. The meeting consisted of some University of Texas – Pan American staff (soon to be UT-RGV) , Edinburg Public Library (Dustin M. Sekula Memorial Library) and Ciclistas Urbanos (a local social cycling club). We debated on how to power and how much of the equipment should be powered. Finally it was agreed to hold off on powering anything due to time constraints and funds.
Not having funds to build didn’t stop us from planning an outdoor movie. At this point in time we opted for showing a flick with the emphasis on cycling to the event. We are in the baby steps phase and felt that this was a good start. We needed to gather movie showing equipment and promote the event. If we can do this, then we will have completed two-thirds of the puzzle, coordinating people and equipment and promoting. The last piece of the puzzle is the actual bike powered generator. That will come later.
First order of business was the movie and the license needed to publicly show it. Dustin M. Sekula Memorial Library took care of that issue and found a sponsor to pay for the license. The movie selected was unanimous, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. I have personally never seen the movie and was excited to watch it.
City Hall’s plaza was picked as the place to show the movie due to large grassy area and available power outlets. The equipment came from both the City of Edinburg (various departments) and a private individual that had a projector that we could use. Initially we were going to rent a projection screen but one of the city departments had a huge 10×10 banner that we could reverse and use as a projection screen.
I suggested that we gather all the equipment needed and do a check on both the location and the gear to make sure everything worked together. After a spell of bad weather we were finally able to do an equipment check. There was some initial concern that the projector wouldn’t be bright enough to use but even with the plaza lights still on the projection was just fine. At least good enough to carry on. With some PA speakers hooked up the sound was a great!
The movie was scheduled to run in conjunction of another event that was happening on the other side of city hall. This made it easier to advertise and put the word out. Flyers and Facebook events were created with each of us spreading the word out to various groups. I felt we didn’t have enough time to promote it but we made do with what we had.
On the day of the event I had planned on commuting to work on my bike but the forecast predicted rain during my ride. It also predicted rain throughout the afternoon so that kept my bike at home. As it turned out, it only lightly sprinkled in the morning and the rest was nice and clear.
By the time we started to set up the sun was down and the weather was nice and breezy. You couldn’t have picked a better time to show a movie. Soon cyclists started to show up and others that walked or drove over to check it out. I had my snacks ready for the showing of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
Having never seen this film before it was a blast watching it. In fact everyone had a good time laughing. It brought back many memories for a lot of people there. Good ones I hope. After the movie everyone stayed and chatted with one another catching up on lost time. I did miss a few people that didn’t show up but what can you do.
Despite the fact that we didn’t have a bicycle generator, we feel that the event was a success. We were able to plan the showing rather quickly, get the word out, have people show up on their bikes and everyone had a good time. Yes, we need to work on getting an actual bike generator and we got people working on that. We already have people submitting ideas to improve the experience for the next showing. I think the Cycle-In Cinema is here to stay and will only get better.