Ten minutes before 7 p.m. Thursday night and a handful of children were already filing into the gymnasium at Schenectady High School, dressed in comfy clothes with pillows and blankets in hand.
The month-long free Schenectady County Family Movie Night series kicked off Thursday.
“It gives families an extra free opportunity in the evening times,” Julie Rouse from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Schenectady said. “Maybe they can’t enjoy the daily park programs that are offered for free because their parents are at work, so it offers an evening event that is affordable for everybody.”
The event is put on by Schenectady County and the activities are run by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Schenectady. The movie nights are completely free and will continue throughout the month of August.
Although attendance was low, spirits were high as the kids spent the evening playing games, crafting and watching “Madagascar 3” on a large blow-up movie screen.
Karin Louden of Schenectady brought her young son and daughter to the movie night.
“It is something free to do,” she said.
Louden’s son, Julien, 5, spent the night showing off his dance moves. “I like movies,” he added.
The movie nights are supposed to be hosted outside, but because of the rain it was moved indoors. For the families in attendance, they planned on coming rain or shine.
“It is something to do with the family — with young kids,” Louden said.
Other activities for the night included crafts with the Scotia Glenville Children’s Traveling Museum, a snack bar with snow cones and hot dogs and police officers with the SAFE CHILD Card program.
“I think it is important for kids to be able to have fun,” Kathleen Curtiss from the Scotia Glenville Children’s Traveling Museum said. “Sometimes they don’t have access to crafts, depending on the family situation; they do not have access to these different kinds of materials.”
Sisters Alaya, 5 and Ariyanna, 3, gathered around the Traveling Museum table, smiling and laughing as they decorated their “marvelous masks.”
“I like to do stuff with the kids, activities, get them out of the house,” said Amanda Butler, their mother. “And they like ‘Madagascar 3.’ ”
The Boys and Girls Club of Schenectady and the Scotia Glenville Children’s Traveling Museum will also be at the future movie nights, as well.
Rain dates vary by location and more information can be found on the Schenectady County website or on the official Facebook page.
“This gives them a chance to do something that is absolutely free,” Curtiss said. “And get out and enjoy family time.”