Mark McDermott

Solar-powered movies debut at Seaside Lagoon

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Seaside Cinemas screen, used earlier this year for movie night at Jefferson School, will be “green” powered for the first time by solar energy.

by Mark McDermott

The people who first brought ice skating to the Seaside Lagoon are launching another somewhat improbable and highly imaginative venture – a series of solar-powered movie nights.

Tom Kearney and Scott Williams, the duo behind Seaside Ice, launch AES Seaside Cinema this Friday with a showing of Back to the Future. They believe Seaside Cinema will be the very first solar-powered outdoor movie event ever held.

The idea, Kearney said, is to show in the most fun way possible that solar power isn’t some far-fetched futuristic form of energy – rather, it is something that everybody can do right now.

“I think this is a great place to start,” Kearney said. “It’s really about creating awareness and having kids and families see it in a practical practice. I mean, how cool is it to go to a movie that is supplied by the sun? At night?”

The primary sponsor of the event is AES Redondo Beach. The “green hardware” – three 180 watt solar panels and an energy-collecting battery – is being provided by ABC Solar Inc., a Hermosa Beach-based company whose aim is to help households “get off the grid.”

Bradley Bartz, founder and president of ABC Solar, said he hopes Seaside Cinema demonstrates that utilizing alternative energy sources doesn’t mean sacrificing fun.

“You can take your home off the grid. You can make all your own energy and keep your lifestyle,” said Bartz, who also noted that every home in the South Bay is capable of housing solar panels that provide enough energy for self-sufficiency and even power two or three neighbors’ homes.

AES Seaside Cinema will run the next four Fridays. After Back to the Future on July 23, Surf’s Up plays on July 30, The Sandlot on Aug. 6 and School of Rock on Aug. 13. The Aug. 6 movie night also includes a “star party” with telescope viewing provided by Celestron.

“That will be really groovy,” Kearney said. “These guys come out and they are some of the best in the world – they are professional astronomers and they’ll talk about what is going on in the sky.”

Popcorn and beverages will be available – with sales benefiting the Redondo Beach Key Club – and Ruby’s Diner will keep a window open selling drinks, burgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes. “Solar cookies” made by solar-powered ovens will also be available.

Tickets for a special giveaways and prizes will be sold at each movie night benefiting the Redondo Beach Education Foundation, with AES matching all ticket sales revenue. The winners will be announced Aug. 6 at the star party.

Kearney, who actually played Marty McFly in a Japanese remake of Back to the Future, said the inspiration for all his Seaside Lagoon doings came from his daughter, Taylor. He and his family moved to Redondo almost a decade ago, when Taylor was only 2-years-old, and both father and daughter fell immediately in love with the lagoon. He’s been imaging fun things to do in the Seaside Lagoon ever since.

“She is the catalyst for all my madness,” Kearney said. “That’s the thing with all my projects – I find that if kids like them, I’m doing the right thing. This is definitely something kids are going to love, and they can learn something, too. And have a solar cookie!”

Gates open at 7 p.m. and the shows start at sundown. Bring a lawn chair and a blanket. For more info see ER

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