More in Community:
By Mike Hazlip–
A cool summer breeze at twilight carrying the smell of pizza as kids of all ages sat with pillows and blankets in the beds of pickup trucks was reminiscent of an earlier time at the drive-in.
The first in a series of free “Carpool Cinema” events organized by the Sunrise Marketplace business improvement district took place Friday night at the Sunrise Village shopping plaza at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane.
The event featured a screening of Sonic the Hedgehog and was aimed at providing a much-needed boost to the sagging local economy and a night out for Citrus Heights families during the coronavirus pandemic.
Melissa and John Machorro attended the event with their two children. The family had the bed of their pickup truck arranged with picnic chairs and blankets to enjoy the movie, as did other attendees.
“I hope they have more things like this, especially with Corona going on,” said Melissa. “It’s really fun. It’s the perfect area for it too, with all the businesses closing. It’s kinda nice to take advantage of the open space.”
Another family viewing from the comfort of their pickup truck was Angelina Cortez with her three children. “The kids are excited to actually be out of the house,” she said.
Kathilynn Carpenter, executive director of Sunrise Marketplace, was on hand during the event. She said one of her biggest concerns is the viability of local businesses.
“We worry about our businesses,” Carpenter told The Sentinel in an interview at the event. “We’re about 90% retail/restaurant here, so we’re doing the best we can.”
Carpenter was a little disappointed that attendance was lower than expected. She said 100 spots were reserved, but estimated 40 cars attended the event.
The event was originally to take place July 24 at Sunrise Mall, but was postponed for a week with only one day’s notice when concerns arose stemming from a non-compete clause in the lease for the mall’s theater. Carpenter said some people had called to cancel their reservation after the change of date.
Organizers said the free event sold out within 24 hours of the announcement, with a maximum of 100 reservations due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I think people just want to do something, anything.” Carpenter said, “Get out and have an adventure.”
Organizers decided to forgo inviting food trucks to the event as a way to help nearby restaurants in Sunrise Village. The only vendor at the event, Snowie, a shaved ice vendor, was busy handing out snow cones.
Owner Sean Cippa said he was hoping for more people, but was grateful for the opportunity. Cippa started the business a year-and-a-half ago using a reverse-osmosis water process he said makes the ice more fluffy.
Alicia Buchine said she didn’t know about the event Friday night when she went to Joanne’s for craft supplies. She saw the Snowie truck and came over for refreshments.
“People are really tired of staying in the house a lot, but at least people can sit in their cars and watch a movie,” Buchine said, adding that she plans to come to the next movie night.
Julie Deprada-Schott, special projects coordinator for Sunrise Marketplace, said social media surveys are being used to ask residents what movies they would like to see in the coming weeks. Kid’s movies and nostalgic eighty’s flicks are at the top of the list, she said.
“We need to do some retro nights, and maybe even do a double-feature scare,” she said.
Traffic was separated by vehicle height, with higher profile trucks in the back rows, and smaller cars in the front. One of the workers hired to help traffic flow was Darrall Ellison, a temporary employee who was grateful for the opportunity to work.
“It helps out, it’s something to lean on,” he said.
The movie was shown using an LED screen provided by Canaan Sound and Light, a husband-and-wife team based in West Sacramento. Talitha Canaan told The Sentinel setting up for Friday’s event was an eight-hour process that included a fire inspection.
She and husband Jon Canaan were encouraged for the opportunity to provide the service, saying business has been slow after many events have been canceled due to COVID-19 shutdown orders.
A breeze prevented the event company from raising the massive screen as high as originally planned, and organizers are already discussing changing the screen’s placement for future events so it can be seen more easily.
Carpenter said Sunrise Marketplace will continue to organize future events to help local businesses, but the current COVID-19 restrictions are complicating efforts.
“Just have to be creative now,” she said. “We’re trying to think about the holidays now and what can we do for the holidays. We usually do quite a few events.”
In the meantime, Deprada-Schott said residents of Citrus Heights can look forward to the free Carpool Cinema every two weeks through September.
Get updates on local events planned in Citrus Heights: click here to sign up for The Sentinel’s free weekly e-Editions.
Thanks for reading The Sentinel. You are either trying to access subscribers-only content or you have reached your limit of 5 free articles per 30 days. Click here to sign in or subscribe.