Anchorage’s Town Square Park to host free outdoor screening of ‘The Lion King’

A free showing of the Disney classic film "The Lion King" will take place on a big screen in Anchorage's Town Square Park on Friday night at 7 p.m. Organizers described it as the first event of its kind in the downtown square.

People are being asked to bring their own blankets or camp chairs, said Penny Smythe, marketing director for the Anchorage Downtown Partnership, the downtown business organization hosting the event. Various vendors will sell food and wine and beer, a gated area will offer a "root beer garden" for toddlers and people will be able to play games like cornhole, Smythe said. Kaladi Brothers Coffee Co. is providing coffee and hot chocolate.

The event is basically a test, Smythe said. If there's a strong turnout, "Movie In the Park" will become a regular event in Town Square Park in summer 2019, Smythe said.

Free outdoor community movie screenings are common in the Lower 48. One popular long-running event in Los Angeles, called Cinespia, takes place in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Smythe said her organization has explored the idea of outdoor movies downtown for nearly a decade. It has always came down to weather and cost, Smythe said. Projector screens were hard to see in the summer and weren't durable in bad weather, she said.

Then Showboss, an audiovisual company with offices in Anchorage, offered to donate a weather-resistant LED screen for the first event. If the event is a success, she said, the Downtown Partnership would go out and solicit sponsors to help pay for permanent equipment.

The sunny forecast is encouraging, Smythe added.

"We thought with First Friday, all the other happenings, it may be noticed by a lot of folks who may not have come down specifically for the event," she said.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.