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Published: Sunday, 6/20/2004

B.G. theater tries infant-friendly plan to lure new patrons

BY JULIE NJAIM
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Shannon Morgillo and her son, Sage, went to the Cla-Zel to see 'The Stepford Wives.' Shannon Morgillo and her son, Sage, went to the Cla-Zel to see 'The Stepford Wives.'
ALLAN DETRICH Enlarge

BOWLING GREEN - When Adela Gutierrez, 26, walked into the movie theater, she was equipped with diaper bag, stroller, infant seat, and a sleeping baby.

While most movie theater managers and moviegoers would roll their eyes and give nasty glares to the young mother, Cla-Zel Theatre general manager Penny Parker welcomed mother and baby.

"As a mommy and in talking with other friends of mine who have babies, it's an ongoing complaint: You don't get to go out to the movies anymore with the babies," Mrs. Parker said.

She's hoping more and more moms, dads, and babies will take advantage of Movies for Mommies and Daddies at 10:30 a.m. Mondays, when first-run movies are shown at matinee prices. Children 2 and younger are admitted free of charge.

On Monday, Ms. Gutierrez, beat the heat as she settled into a comfortable seat with her 1-month-old daughter, Grace Hartland, at her side, equally comfy, sleeping in her stroller's infant seat.

As a new mother, Ms. Gutierrez is quickly learning how a baby changes your world.

"We have to plan around when she's going to sleep, eat, or just cry," Ms. Gutierrez said. "It's harder to go to the movies with a baby; I'm always afraid she will cry."

To aid parents, Mrs. Parker said they will leave the theater's lights turned up so they can feed their babies and to make it easier to check on them.

The theater's sound system will be turned down a little lower than usual, too, "so we don't scare any babies awake," Mrs. Parker said.

In its third week, turnout has been scarce, she said.

Memorial Day weekend was the first showing scheduled at the same time as the downtown parade. Last Monday, three parents arrived to see The Stepford Wives.

Julie Gutierrez, Adela's mother, brought her grandson Elijah, 18 months, with her.

It was Elijah's first experience in the theater.

Although the movie hadn't started, little Elijah was thoroughly entertained placing his sippy cup in the seat's cup holder.

When she was a young mother, Movies for Mommies wasn't an option, the elder Ms. Gutierrez said. She used to pile her kids in the car and go to the drive-in.

She's happy she can bring Elijah, whom she cares for while her daughter and son-in-law are working.

Shannon Morgillo was excited to be at the historic Cla-Zel with her 14-month-old son, Sage.

"I think it's better to be able to do things with the kids," she said.

Mrs. Parker said she'd read about theaters in other, bigger cities offering movies for parents and thought it would be a good idea to try it here.

She plans to keep the movies showing as long as moms and dads show up.

"If it looks like it's going to be a big deal, we might add some child-friendly amenities."

Contact Julie Njaim at: jnjaim@theblade.com or 419-353-5972.



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