BLISSFIELD, Mich. -- It will be show time under the stars Thursday as the village kicks off its Movies on Lane Street program with a screening of Spider-Man.
Three hundred chairs will be set up on South Lane, along with a 24-foot screen, and the movie is expected to begin about 9:10 p.m.Admission is free.
"We're hoping a lot of people make their way downtown," said Michael Sessions, manager of Blissfield's Main Street Program, which promotes the downtown. "We invite people to bring their own lawn chairs. If there's rain, we'll do it the following Thursday."
Two other outdoor films are slated: Evan Almighty on Aug. 16 and The Hunger Games Sept. 20.
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The outdoor movie program was put together by seven Blissfield High School students as part of an entrepreneurship class. Their assignment was to come up with a business idea, put together a business plan, obtain financing, and market and promote their idea. They presented their business plan to a group of prospective sponsors in a meeting at the public library and raised $6,000.
One of the students, Robert Neyrinck, came up with the kernel of an idea for the Lane Street movies.
He said his inspiration was a drive-in theater he saw from the Ohio Turnpike en route to visit his grandmother in Akron.
"It was a sort of double cinema outdoor theater," recalled Robert, who is 16 and a junior.
He said went back to his entrepreneurship class and told the members, "Let's have a drive-in." But this too proved impractical, and after some discussion he and his classmates decided to go with an outdoor theater in downtown Blissfield. They wanted to involve the merchants and have been putting promotional posters in their windows. Merchants selling food and drink will remain open for the movie showing. They also wanted to involve the public, and set up ballot boxes for votes on preferred movies.
Robert said he conceived of the outdoor movie series as a "community event" that will enable people to meet each other and learn more about Blissfield.
"It will be a good atmosphere. You don't even have to watch the movie. You can talk to each other. You can patronize the merchants who are open. And you don't have to be from Blissfield. I live in Blissfield and I don't know everyone. I want to branch out," he explained.
Jack Townsley, who taught the entrepreneurship class, said he found the students' performance to be pretty impressive. Mr. Townsley works out of Adrian for South Central Michigan Works, a business development group that assists employers in Lenawee, Hillsdale, and Jackson counties with hiring and training.
"Hopefully, this shows them that they don't have to go out and find a job; they can create their own job," he said. "It was a fun project, and hopefully the kids pull it off and it's a resounding success. Not hopefully -- they will pull it off."