The big screen returns to Fletcher Cove Park for the fourth annual Beach Blanket Movie Night Aug. 23, promising an evening of family-friendly entertainment. The popular event draws more than 1,000 people, young and old, to enjoy surf films and the company of their neighbors under the stars.
"It's gone beyond what we ever imagined," said Gerri Retman, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, which organizes the event. "The community has really embraced it, come to think of it as an end-of-summer ritual."
The featured film this year is "Step into Liquid," a full-length surf documentary directed by Dana Brown, the son of Bruce Brown who made the iconic "Endless Summer."
The 2003 film, which was shown in theaters, takes viewers around the world to experience a variety of surfing, meeting inspiring real-life characters along the way.
"The success of the film is not what you expect of a surf film," said producer Rich Wilson, who lives in Cardiff. "It's looking for the beauty in life, ways to find happiness. Sometimes that's quirky, off-beat, not always about the best wave or making the most money."
There are plenty of epic moments and beautiful waves, and the film is so engaging Retman said it will appeal to surfers and land-lubbers alike.
"I think people will get a sense of the exhilaration, thrill and danger of these guys surfing," Retman said.
Along with "Step into Liquid," a segment from Fuel TV's "FiNS" will be shown about Solana Beach professional surfer Brian Conley, as well as a short, educational cartoon.
There is much more to Movie Night than the movie.
Billabong team riders will be signing autographs, including Schuyler McFerlan, the 2006 women's longboard champion and up-and-coming 14-year-old Kolohe Andino.
A raffle is packed with hot items donated by local businesses, such as a beach cruiser bicycle from B and L Bikes, a Firewire surfboard and a girl's Billabong package including a wetsuit, soft top surfboard and a one-day girls surf camp.
The event is free, but raffle tickets and $1 cookies, brownies and Baskin Robbins ice cream serve as the Parks and Recreation Commission's one annual fundraiser. The money goes right back into the community, Retman said. For example, the commission sponsored the folklorico dancers at the Cinco de Mayo celebration and helped the city purchase the reusable holiday tree.
To emphasize Movie Night's environmental theme and cut down on plastic, water bottles will no longer be passed out. Instead, participants are asked to bring their own reusable bottles.
Another new feature of Movie Night is a kid's surf contest. The first annual Grom-o-rama will be hosted by the Solana Beach Lifeguard Association that morning.
Six divisions of boys and girls between 9- and 17-years-old will compete at Fletcher Cove between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Finalists will be awarded trophies or medals on the Movie Night stage that evening prior to the film.
"The lifeguards wanted to be more involved with Movie Night and this seemed like an ideal way to do that," said Captain Craig Miller. "It's always fun to watch kids get out in the surf, enjoy the resource we have here. Not every city has the opportunity to do something like this."
The contest entry fee is $35 and includes a t-shirt. The lifeguards are hoping for about 50 surfers, and entries will be open the day of the contest. For more information, call the lifeguard station at (858) 720-4444, or e-mail