BY GRETCHEN MURRAY Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — NORTHPORT -- Northport residents and Leelanau State Park visitors don’t have to drive to Suttons Bay or Traverse City to take in a movie this summer.
Volunteers at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, located inside the state park about nine miles north of the Village of Northport, are sponsoring weekly outdoor movie nights through Labor Day Weekend.
“This is the first summer movie nights have been offered at the lighthouse; and when combined with Northport’s summer Music in the Park concerts on Friday nights, makes for a nice package of free, local weekend entertainment,” said Lindsey Wooten, administrative assistant and coordinator of the lighthouse’s movie night program.
The idea is based on a similar program offered by the Port Isabel Lighthouse in Texas, Wooten said. Movies are held either on Thursdays or Saturdays, depending on what other events are taking place at the lighthouse each week, and shows begin at dusk.
Movies are family friendly and educational films that are rated either PG or G. The lineup offers Disney movies, maritime documentaries and locally produced films, including some by local filmmaker Rich Brauer. The season’s remaining films include: VanHeest’s “Ice Bound Found,” July 18; “The Wreck of the Hartzell,” July 27; “Mixter’s Cutter Rescues,” Aug. 1; VanHeest’s “The Verano,” Aug. 8; “Lost Treasure of Saw Tooth Island,” Aug. 17; “That One Summer,” Aug. 24 and “The Princess and the Frog,” Aug. 31.
In the event of rain movies are shown indoors in the lighthouse gift shop where the show time changes to 7 p.m.
“It’s a judgment call we have to make that day,” Wooten said. “Changes are posted inside the park, or people can call 231-386-7195 to check on the time.”
Al Ammons, lead ranger at Leelanau State Park, said attendance has increased weekly with between 30 and 40 people showing up for the July 4 weekend movie “A Bug’s Life.”
“So far, we’ve had positive feedback, which is really good since most of our campers use the park as a base camp for sightseeing and day trips and often don’t return until late evening,” Ammons said. “It’s an interesting concept, and we’re happy to offer it to our campers.”
Movie nights are free, but Leelanau State Park is one of Michigan’s state parks that requires a Recreation Passport for all entering vehicles. The annual Passports, which cost Michigan residents $11 for automobiles or $5 for motorcycles, can be purchased at state park offices or through the Secretary of State while renewing the vehicle’s registration.
With a Recreation Passport on their vehicles, Michigan residents can explore nearly 400 outdoor recreation destinations including state parks, state forests, boat launches and trailheads. Non-residents can purchase an $8.40 daily park pass or a $30.50 annual pass.