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Pictures in the Park

The Parkside Movies in the Meadow are a reliable summer favorite in Buffalo, a perfect mix of excellent setting (on the lawn behind Parkside Lodge) and excellent curation. The 2018 season, with films screened every Friday at dusk for the rest of the summer, kicked off Friday with The Lost Boys of Sudan, a particularly poignantly made documentary, poignantly introduced (separate article to come).

Movies in the Meadow is a production of the Parkside Community Association in cooperation with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and in conjunction with Olmsted, Vaux, and Co., Landscape Architects (no website available).

Movies in the Meadow selections are regularly a cut above other outdoor film series in the area because it seems to follow a winning formula year over year:

  • A Disney/Pixar film, but one that works for adults as well as kids. This year it’s The Incredibles. Leave Cars, Ice Age, or Monsters, Inc. to Canalside or the Bisons Family Film Night.
  • A quality sci-fi or comic book flick. This year it’s a film that neatly blends both: Black Panther. Let UB show last year’s Marvel/DC/Transformers/Alien vs. Predator crossover embargle.
  • A couple of classics and favorites, usually one from the studio-system era and one more recent. A pair like North By Northwest and Ghostbusters, or Citizen Kane and The Princess Bride, or The Wizard of Oz and The Natural from previous years. This year: Roman Holiday and A League of Their Own.
  • A “grownup” film that kids — especially older ones — can get something out of, or at least follow. Last year it was Hidden Figures and this year it’s Marshall (shot partly in Buffalo).
Introducing Lost Boys

I’ve also been impressed with their unwillingness to go for easy choices like a Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter installment. (A good film school dissertation would be to explore the hypothesis that those are actually the same movies. Working title: Gonna Watch Harry Throw the Ring Into the Fires of Mt. Doom). All this within the constraints of PG and under, and it’s a bit of a trick to pull this off every year. Yet they do, year in and year out, and even have fresh-popped popcorn for sale.

About the setting, the backside of Parkside Lodge, a golfball’s shot (in the other direction, fortunately) off the Delaware Park Meadow, in a month when the rain is usually at bay and the dusktime temperatures are just right is about as good as it gets.

And if you’re one of those who believes the journey is as important as the destination, it’s good for that, too. Most attendees, naturally, will come from the Parkside neighborhood, whose curving streets and ample home lots and setbacks were laid out by the same landscape architects who designed the park. In Parkside, you can walk to an Olmstedian park through an Olmstedian neighborhood.

But in Buffalo, with its extensive parkway system reaching into so many corners of the city, folks in many neighborhoods can walk to Movies in the Meadow in an Olmstedian setting. West-siders like me, or Elmwood Villagers, or Allentowners generally live within a few blocks of an Olmsted parkway. One could walk from, say, Symphony Circle all the way to Movies in the Meadow entirely in an Olmsted landscape, as I did on Friday. Add to that the peak Garden Walk gardens on all the connecting blocks and life in many parts of Buffalo really is a walk in the park.

One of the best parts of this walk is the Delaware Park Meadow itself. By the time you reach the near shore of the Meadow, and need to cross the sea of greensward to the movie on the far shore, it’s approaching dusk. So the golfers are getting out of the water, and you can safely swim across without getting bitten by a golf ball or golf cart. After the movie, the return trip across the Meadow in the dark is even more amazing. You can imagine you’re out in the country under the stars…except for the lights and noise of the nearby expressway.

If only that weren’t there…

Got connected:

Parkside Community Association

Parkside Community Association Facebook

Note: movie-goers are welcome to bring picnic baskets, chairs, blankets, family and friends.

The 2018 Movies in the Meadow line-up:

  • August 3: The Incredibles
  • August 10: Marshall
  • August 17: A league of their own
  • August 24: Roman Holiday
  • August 31: Black Panther

Written by RaChaCha


RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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