MARYSVILLE — The city of Marysville’s summer concert series and “Popcorn in the Park” are in full swing at Jennings Park, where hundreds are flocking each week for free music and free movies, courtesy of the Marysville Parks and Recreation Department and a number of supportive community groups.
Thursday, July 18, saw the Wild Snohomians perform for a hillside full of families, thanks to the Cottages at Marysville serving as exclusive sponsors of the Thursday evening summer concert series. On Saturday, July 20, Waste Management treated an entire playing field of families to the animated film “Shark Tale,” as exclusive sponsors of the Saturday night “Popcorn in the Park” for which the Marysville Kiwanis Club provides free popcorn. The Hillside Church of Marysville sells snacks and refreshments to attendees of both the Thursday concerts and the Saturday movie screenings to support their own church programs.
“A lot of folks leave town on Fridays, so we shifted the concerts to Thursdays,” Marysville Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew said. “That’s worked out really well so far.”
Indeed, while Brandon Wilson of the Hillside Church estimated that they usually serve at least 30 customers during each concert and movie screening, Marysville Kiwanis Club President Walter McKinney noted that this year’s first “Popcorn in the Park” on July 13 ran out of popcorn to hand out at 9:15 p.m., barely after the movie had started.
“We must have handed out 500 bags of popcorn,” said McKinney, who credited Sound Harley-Davidson of Smokey Point with purchasing the popcorn for the Kiwanis, whose Key Club members from Marysville Getchell High School have volunteered as popcorn poppers and servers for the movie screenings. “That’s about 30 pounds of popcorn kernels.”
Ask any family why they attend these concerts and movie screenings, and many will likely echo Andrew and Jamie Smith, who appreciated being able to take their 2-year-old son Kingston out for an evening of music on July 18 that normally would have been past his bedtime.
“We can usually hear the concerts from our house,” laughed Jamie Smith, whose home is just up the hill from Jennings Park. “I love how low-key of a get-together it is. It’s just real family-friendly fun.”
“We’re regulars for both the concerts and the movies,” said A.J. Suttie, whose blanket on the Jennings Park hillside overlooking the Wild Snohomians on July 18 was occupied by her own children and their friends. “When the weather is good like this, it’s just good to get outside and enjoy the summer on a weeknight. The kids can have some fun without just hanging around the house.”
Kyle Crosby, Jesus Ortiz and Jakob Palermo are 20-somethings rather than parents or kids, but the trio agreed that they still appreciate the summer concert series as a means of socializing and connecting with the community, while July 18 marked John and Judy Swendsen’s first Jennings Park concert, since Judy is originally from California and John had moved away from his native Marysville for a few years.
“It’s great the way the trees are able to shade the band,” John Swendsen said, as he aimed his camera-phone at his fellow attendees, “and it’s almost more fun to watch the kids dancing than it is the folks in the band playing,” he laughed. “It’s a great way to wind down the tail end of the week.”
“It’s a great neighborhood event,” Judy Swendsen said. “Especially for Thursday, which isn’t quite the weekend yet, it gives you something nice to do after dinner.”
Melissa Vaughn and Jessica Hawkins had attended “Popcorn in the Park” in previous summers, and July 20 brought them and their own respective broods out in force for “Shark Tale.”
“This is so much fun to do together, as a family,” Hawkins said. “We live close enough that we can just walk here, so we’ll get a group of friends and just pile in.”
“I love the atmosphere,” Vaughn said. “There’s lots of local people here.”
“It’s great to see so many families all in one place,” said Penny Ploeger, also of the Marysville Kiwanis Club. “The kids can run around because it’s a safe place, and parents with multiple kids don’t have to spend $60 just to see a single movie.”
For more information on the city of Marysville Parks and Recreation Department’s summer concert series and “Popcorn in the Park,” log onto www.marysvillewa.gov/calendar.aspx?CID=21.