There is a reason 1,500 souls congregate three times a year on the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church lawn, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Movies By Moonlight is an ecumenical treat, according to Carolyn Axt, executive director of Leadership Sandy Springs, the presenter of the family friendly movie series now in its eighth year.
“It is a fun activity the whole family can enjoy together,” she said. “Sandy Springs residents of all ages like to get out and see friends in a fun, community atmosphere.”
Plus, with the economy as it is and gas prices soaring, the price is right.
“Because of our sponsors and support from the city of Sandy Springs and Leadership Sandy Springs, more families are able to enjoy a wholesome, fun activity together because admission is free,” Axt said.
The series starts Friday with “The Lorax,” a brand-new animated feature with voiceovers from stars like Zac Efron and Danny DeVito, based on the book by Dr. Seuss.
However, movie sponsor Bruce Piefke, owner of Vinings-based Special Events Network, said parents as well as children will like the environmental tale.
“Many adults will enjoy its subtle bits of humor,” he said.
Next up on Sept. 14 is the true story of a rescued sea creature named Winter, starring the actual dolphin plus human actors Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Frances Sternhagen.
“‘Dolphin Tale’ is about courage, ingenuity, and never giving up,” Piefke said.
“Zookeeper,” a 2011 comedy starring Kevin James, closes the series on Sept. 28 with a blend of romantic comedy and suspension of disbelief spurred by a kindly caretaker’s decision to quit his job at the zoo.
“The animals, in a panic, decide to break their time-honored code of silence and reveal their biggest secret,” Piefke said.
One secret to the series’ success is its festivities, staged between the 6 p.m. admission time and the darkness allowing the films to be visible on a portable, 30-foot screen provided by Piefke.
According to entertainment co-chairs Amy Arno and Jori Kasher, Marietta-based Moohan Martial Arts will warm up the audience before “The Lorax.”
The Mount Vernon Presbyterian School chorus and Ridgeview Middle School singers will open for “Dolphin Tale.”
In the series finale before “Zookeeper,” Ridgeview’s jazz ensemble will play, a Boy Scout troop will retire U.S. flags and local theatre company Act 3 Productions will perform musical selections from its award-winning 2011-12 season.
If you go
What: Movies By Moonlight
When: “The Lorax” Friday, “Dolphin Tale” Sept. 14 and “Zookeeper” Sept. 28
Where: Sandy Springs United Methodist Church, 86 Mount Vernon Hwy., Sandy Springs
Information: (404) 256-9091 or www.leadershipsandysprings.org