Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Films al Fresco: Family fun on the big screen at Fort Hunter.

After months of lingering cold weather, June is here at last with hopes of warm, mild days and glorious, long sunsets that herald summertime.

June also means that it’s time once again to round up the lawn chairs, blankets, family and friends for free, outdoor movie fun at Fort Hunter Park.

Starting June 1, Dauphin County Parks and Recreation’s “Sunset Movie Series” returns with the family-friendly adventure film, “Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade.” Movies are shown on a 9-by-16-foot screen next to the Centennial Barn but move inside the barn in the event of rain.

“June is a good month for the film series,” explained Michelle Hornberger, assistant program director for Dauphin County Parks and Recreation. “We tried doing it in July, but it didn’t work. June works because kids and their families still are in a routine from school.”

Moreover, trial-and-error has proven Friday to be the choice evening of the weekend.

“Friday night is a good night to show films because it’s before people get into their weekends,” Hornberger said. “We tried doing it on Saturday and Sunday, but those didn’t quite work, either.”

On a “good night,” attendance can surge to 400, depending on the weather, Hornberger said. While waiting for the movie to begin at 8:30 p.m., filmgoers often toss footballs, chat with neighbors or simply savor a descending sunset over the Susquehanna River.

Early-birds also dig into picnic baskets or purchase movie snacks as such popcorn, candy or ice cream from the Friends of Fort Hunter. Dauphin County Human Services also is on hand to offer children’s activities, crafts and resource pamphlets.

“It’s great to see families have fun together,” said Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste, who comes to the films each year with his children and grandchildren. “You see people in lawn chairs and blankets there. It’s a fun night.”

The series began 12 years ago after Haste, who oversees the county’s Parks and Recreation, challenged the department to offer more family-friendly activities, he said. In response, staff and the Friends of Fort Hunter developed what would become the Sunset Movie Series.

“The Dauphin County Commissioners really wanted us to ramp up our programs,” said Hornberger.

For the series’ first year, the county offered just two movies, but the films attracted so much response that more shows were added.

“Our movies tend to be nostalgic,” Hornberger noted. “It’s not all the latest and the greatest. It’s often films that people in their 30s and 40s might remember as kids and want to share with their own families, like ‘The Mighty Ducks’ or ‘Indiana Jones.’ We also show one funny movie each year for a date night, like ‘Airplane.’”

Dauphin County’s Sunset Movie Series is sponsored by TheBurg, Sheetz and WGAL-TV Channel 8.

Fort Hunter Mansion and Park is located at 5300 N. Front St., Harrisburg.


Blankets Down

Get the kids and coolers ready for Dauphin County’s “Sunset Movie Series” at Fort Hunter Park. All shows begin at 8:30 p.m.

June 1: “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”

June 8: “Angels in the Outfield”

June 15: “Jaws”

June 16: “The Mighty Ducks” (at Shope Park in Middletown)

June 22: “Little Giants”

June 29: “Airplane!”

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