Hacks that work for Movies in the Park

Sustainable, eco-friendly tips for watching movies outside this May.

Movies in the Park starts at dark, but before the show starts every week, local bands entertain. Here's what's playing this May.

May 3: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) Music: Dead Set - Florida. Three guesses whether or not they eat Cherry Garcia ice cream.

May 10: My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) Music: Cottondale Swamp (Florida swamp rock)

May 17: Father of the Bride (1991) Music: Talk to Mark

May 24: Back to the Future (1985) Music: Sunset Bridge Band (alternative pop-folk fusion) with vocalist Gracie Grieshop

May 31: Batman (1989) Music: The Sad Clowns — Geri-X, Jeremy Thomas and Jason Frilot

click to enlarge This is for amateurs. Bring your Movies in the Park experience to the next level with these hacks. - By Silar [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
By Silar [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
This is for amateurs. Bring your Movies in the Park experience to the next level with these hacks.

Every year, Movies in the Park takes over North Straub Park, and every year we resolve to be as put together as those guys down front. You know who we mean — they're the ones with the artisanal cheese platter, a teak coffee table and kids who play happily until the movie starts, at which point they sit quietly. 

This year, resolve to have it all together at Movies in the Park. Here are some hacks to make Thursday nights more fun — and how to class up your MiP experience to compete with that group that brings the spread that makes it feel more like a Movies in the Park Gala (not a thing) than a relaxing night of film and friends. 

Plus — and this is a big plus — with St. Pete moving away from straws, and trying to get greener, all of these ideas are plastic-averse and more sustainable than some of the ways you could party at MiP. Check them out, then get downtown for the show. 

1. Have kids? Three words: Kiddie pool bed.

Yes, you'll need to bring a portable air pump, but so worth it. Buy an inflatable kiddie pool, inflate it at the park, and fill it with blankets and pillows. Your kids won't complain about ants or scratchy grass and, at the end of the night, all their toys will be mostly in the pool.

2. Get the fork out

You need more fruits. But, seriously, you don't want to bring the good silverware to the park, and fruits are... well, they're juicy. No one wants sticky hands all night. So how about put them in ice cream cones? Not into ice cream cones, or maybe you're carb or gluten averse? try these silicone ice cream cones. They're made for baking, but we figure they'll hold berries, grapes and watermelon chunks pretty well. 

3. Wine bibs

Movies in the Park is way too fancy for putting your wine in sippy cups. The internet is filled with ideas like using paper cupcake liners over the top of the wine glass, threaded with a paper straw, but we can do one better — and sustainable. Swipe some paperboard bar coasters the next time you're out, or bring your own cork ones — and use those to cover your drink. We have some mermaid-themed cork coasters and Frank Zappa paperboard ones we like, but you do you. 

4. Bug off

No one likes that guy with the can of OFF!, spraying everything around them in a crowded park, but no one likes malaria, either. Class up your mosquito game with these centerpieces, made with sliced citrus, rosemary sprigs, water, a floating candle and citronella oil, all in a mason jar. (OK, this sounds like more of a DIY thing than a hack, but if you want to look fancy at MiP, this is probably a good "look fancy and not also piss of the people around you when you douse yourself in bug juice" hack). 

5. Get fancy with IKEA

OK, so you don't want to be the people who bring a teak table to MiP, but you hate trying to eat your PubSub in your lap. Grab this set of three IKEA tables ($59), throw however many you need in your wheeled cart, and set up a lovely spread. Don't like the wood look? Throw an old sheet or tablecloth over it, or lightly sand it and paint it with spray paint. 

6. Coolers are so 2017.

Sometimes, yes, you need a cooler. But for napkins? Mustard? Your cheese board? Um, no. Forget the reusable grocery bag; get this side table from IKEA ($49) instead, and store stuff in it. Bonus: extra table.

7. Forget about cheap plastic — or worse, disposable — plates and flatware

Without even a Google, I can name five places where you can get funky retro plates and an eclectic set of silverware. Brocante (open this weekend), Salvation Army on 66th, Hospice Thrift on 38th Ave. N. and 49th St., Suncoast Animal League Thrift in Palm Harbor, and PetPal Thrift on 34th St. N. Yes, they're clunkier than paper and yes, you'll have to wash them, but they're so much cooler. Same goes for glasses and, if you're feeling like breaking out a sewing machine, old logo tees that will make awesome napkins.  

8. Make 'Burg-themed placemats

Check out these gorgeous photos from Matthew Paulson. Totally legal to use 'em for non-commercial gain, so download 'em (original size),  print them out as 4 x 6 photos, then tape the backs of four of them together to make a kick-ass St. Pete placemat. Bring them them to a local print shop (we're partial to Florida Print Solutions, because they're women-owned and local) for lamination and voila, you have your own placemats. 

9. Seriously, ditch the cooler.

Use multiple small baskets, thrift store woven totes or plastic shower caddies — one for each person's meals — and put a bottle of iced water (or a cold beer or chilled bottle of wine) in each to keep the food at a safe temp. You're not camping for a week in the Everglades; you're heading to DTSP to eat a sammie. Put perishables next to the coldest thing in the caddy; I promise the mayo won't turn in the 30 minutes between your home and your ass in the grass at the park. OK, this won't work if you're bringing ice cream, but it will for everything else. 

10. Crudite — in a cup

Put a layer of veggie dip or peanut butter or hummus on the bottom of a clean screw-top jar, then pack it with veggies. No need to use a plastic bag and less stuff the carry.


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Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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