ANDERSONVILLE — Plans to turn Cheetah Gym’s parking lot into an outdoor movie theater have been scrapped after the city threatened to shut down the fundraiser, according to organizers.
The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce had plans to screen two movies Wednesday in the lot behind Cheetah Gym, 5248 N. Clark St., as a fundraiser for the crash-strapped organization and so local businesses could get some more foot traffic.
But the event did not meet city requirements regarding social distancing, city officials said.
The maximum capacity of the Andersonville event would exceed other similar events, including the park district’s Movies in the Parks, which has a capacity of 100, according to the city.
City officials suggested alternative sites that would accommodate more cars, but the chamber did not move forward with those, a city spokesperson said.
Rather than switch to an all car format, the chamber decided to cancel the event, said Joelle Scillia, director of marketing of the chamber. The chamber’s plan was to section off the parking lot so families can walk over and have socially-distanced spaces to watch the films.
There were 30, 5-by-7-foot spaces for families of five or four adults. If they had to accommodate cars, there would only be space for 10 stations, Scillia said.
The economics of requiring cars didn’t make sense for the chamber, it said. Plus, some Andersonville families don’t have cars and would be unable to follow the city’s mandate.
The sold-out Wednesday event will see tickets refunded, she said. A planned Halloween movie screening in the Cheetah Gym lot has also been scrapped, according to the chamber group.
The city’s decision is “frustrating,” Scillia said. The chamber took its safety and exit plans for the event to the local police commander, who signed off on the event, she said.
The Andersonville event was similar in format to Movies in the Parks, one of the only events to not be canceled this summer.
The movie screening was meant as a fundraiser for the Andersonville chamber, which like many business organizations is reeling from the loss of summer street fests and other events that generate money for the groups.
It was also meant to generate some foot traffic to local businesses.
Attendees were encouraged to order take-out from Reza’s, whose owner also owns Cheetah Gym, and bring it to the movie screening. Buckets of beer and wine were available to attendees from neighboring Farragut’s Bar.
“Small events/fundraisers like this still allow us to support our small businesses … while raising a little money to bolster the organizational income loss we’ve taken this year due to canceled events with COVID,” Scillia said in an email.
The Andersonville chamber has held similar movie screenings in the past that played on the Movie in the Parks series, since Andersonville does not have a public park.
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