The Williamsport Branch YMCA will be offering Dive-In Movies at 6 p.m. the third Friday of each month from now through December. Admission is only $1 for members and non-members alike. Children and their parents are invited to come enjoy movies in the YMCA’s heated pool.
“The idea was to provide kids with a new kind of program. We had a blank space on the wall and a projector. Someone said, ‘Why don’t we show movies?’ ” Darrel Fedchack, aquatics director at Williamsport YMCA.
The program has become quite popular since it began more than a year ago, sometimes drawing more than 75 attendees. Not surprisingly, Dive-In Movies provides an excellent opportunity for children and parents to meet new people.
“A lot of kids have formed friendships through the program,” Fedchack said. “They meet in the locker rooms, get changed, play together, then watch the film together. It has become an incredible community event.”
Prior to the film, the lifeguard will often lead the children through a few games. The lights are then darkened and the film begins.
“Once the lights go down, the kids get excited. Several kids bring glow sticks and hand them out to the others. It’s a different atmosphere than they’re used to,” Fedchack said.
The ground rules are fairly straight-forward: no fins, no lap-swimming, and no jumping in off the sides.
Lifeguards are stationed on either side of the pool to enforce the rules and monitor the children.
“We make sure we’re providing a good, safe environment,” Fedchack said.
Parents of younger children are asked to accompany their child in the pool. Parents of older children are welcome to watch from the bleachers.
“We’ve had a decent mix of kids ages seven to 14, although we do have some younger kids that come in with their parents, too,” Fedchack said.
The YMCA provides flotation devices such as noodles and innertubes. Families can also bring inflatable rafts from home. The YMCA does sell towels for $3 each but most attendees bring their own.
“We pick movies that will be done around 7:45 p.m. because that’s when our facility closes. There have been a few instances where we end a little late,” Fedchack said.
The six-lane pool was originally built as a therapy pool and so it only has a total depth of three and a half feet. The shallow depth makes the environment even more kid-friendly.
The YMCA considered suspending the program during the warmer months since the pool is heated but decided against it due to the program’s popularity.
“We thought it might be too hot but the kids asked us not to stop. They love it and they want to keep coming,” Fedchack said.
The spring season will kick off with the 2012 Disney movie “Brave,” showing April 19. The comedy fantasy film won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Film.
The line-up for the remainder of the year is as follows: “Finding Nemo” will play May 17, “Toy Story 3” June 21, “Ice Age: Continental Drift” July 19, “Pirates: Band of Misfits” August 16, “Wreck-it Ralph” September 20, “Hotel Trannsylvania” October 18, “Lion King” November 15 and “Rise of the Guardians” December 20. All movies begin at 6 p.m.
“We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from the community. The kids really love it,” Fedchack said.
For more information on Dive-In Movies or YMCA’s other kid-friendly programs, call 323-7134 or visit williamsportymca.org.