Locals catch a classic on Commerce Street

Published 1:01 am Sunday, June 8, 2008

NATCHEZ — Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman stood 30 feet tall on Commerce Street Saturday night.

“Casablanca” was shown on the big screen in an outdoor cinema event hosted by the Natchez Downtown Development Association, as part of their First Friday Weekends program.

About an hour before the event began, a quick rain shower passed through leaving a cool, gentle breeze that caused the votive candles surrounding the block to delicately flicker.

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“It cooled it off and cleaned the streets,” NDDA Director Carrie Lambert said with a laugh as she referred to the rain.

Also churning the damp night air were large fans to cool off the participants.

If that wasn’t enough still, handheld fans were being sold by NDDA.

Lambert said it’s part of a special campaign, where each month a different downtown building will be featured on the fan.

The sponsor this month is the Eola Hotel.

The money from the $2 fans will go toward saving the Ritz Theater, Lambert.

Participants lugged their own lawn chairs to the event or had the opportunity to rent a chair for $1.

Sissy Blackwood was sprawled out in a lounge chair minutes before the movie began at 8:30.

“I’m real excited about this, I think it’s a cool idea,” Blackwood said. “Plus I like ‘Casablanca.’”

Lisa McKnight said she came out because she enjoys old movies and she was excited about an outdoor movie in general.

“I hope they keep doing like this,” McKnight said.

She said as long as the NDDA keeps having these types of events, she’ll be there.

“I’ll keep supporting it,” she said.

The outdoor movie is part of downtown development’s First Friday Weekends, which began in March to appeal to locals and tourists.

Each time the event take place, Lambert said it gets bigger and stronger.

“We slowly keep adding to the entertainment and fun,” Lambert said.

She said people are starting to come into town specifically for the first weekend of the month.

“They’re coming to town just for this, word spreads,” she said. “That’s why we have to make it bigger and better.”

Lambert said an outdoor movie will be part of the First Friday Weekends program from now on.

“In a couple of months I hope to start showing movies that were filmed in Natchez,” she said.