LAKEWOOD RANCH -- When you mix a beautiful spring evening with a Disney movie that children love, the result is a Moonlight Movie night at Lakewood Ranch.
Children and adults, who felt like big kids for the evening, all flooded Adventure Park in the Greenbrook neighborhood of Lakewood Ranch just as the sun was beginning to set and the cool winds were blowing in for the night Saturday. They unpacked their coolers, set down folding chairs and blankets, took out peanut butter sandwiches and toys to keep the young
ones occupied and waited for the annual outdoor movie in the park.
Families from Manatee and Sarasota counties joined residents of the Ranch for the free presentation of Disney's popular animated movie, "Frozen," presented on a two-story inflatable screen set up on the baseball field with speakers that could be heard clear across the dog park in the back. The movie had to be loud because so many of the songs from "Frozen" are tunes that children love and can sing by heart.
The movie is captivating to all ages because it has universal themes of love and family. A fearless optimist named Anna sets off on an epic journey with a mountain man named Kristoff and his loyal reindeer to find her sister, Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Along the way, they battle ice-cold elements, meet mystical trolls and a snowman named Olaf in a race to save the kingdom.
For 5-year-old Reagan Bell, of Greenbrook, who's seen the movie three times, the third time was a charm and a chance to see snow again, at least on the big screen, since visiting her grandmother in New Jersey during the winter. Holding her American Girl doll, who appeared to be her best friend, Reagan spoke about what she enjoys best about "Frozen."
"I like when summer comes back and the sisters are friends again," she said.
Johnny Ortiz, who brought his two little girls, Anna and Annelise, said he was totally prepared to relax and enjoy the evening, complete with bug spray.
"My girls have seen the movie, but I haven't seen it, so I'm looking forward to it," said Ortiz, who praised the Lakewood Ranch community for hosting so many family-friendly events.
A movie night in the park with friends is a good way to spend a Saturday night when you're not old enough to drive, and that's exactly what a group of ninth-grade girls from Lakewood Ranch High School did.
"All of us love the movie, 'Frozen,' and we love to sing along to it, and we're kind of young ourselves, so we'll probably fit in," said Allie Alialger, who was one of the young ladies happy to be part of the crowd.
According to Lakewood Ranch Community Activities director, Lori Basilone, Moonlight Movie nights are one of 15 events Lakewood Ranch hosts throughout the year.
"This year is really super special because we're showing Disney's "Frozen." I can't wait to hear the little ones get completely mesmerized and start singing the songs. It will be an experience worth waiting for."
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.