FORTY FORT — Andy Tuzinski’s mother didn’t do much laundry in the summer.
He said she just hung bathing suits until her kids went back to the pool at Forty Fort Park, because in his younger days, the park was the place to be.
“My goal as mayor is to keep that magic going,” Tuzinski said.
His neighbors share that goal, he said, and as part of realizing it, Families for Forty Fort Park hosts free movie nights and activities throughout the summer. The informal group held its most recent event — and its first for the season — Friday, playing the animated movie “The Nut Job.”
Some two hours before the film started, families already were filtering into the park in the greatest numbers volunteers said they had seen so early on a movie night.
Children ran around the park, climbing every surface in the playground their little legs could scale, as parents laid claim to their spots in the grass, relaxing in blankets and folding chairs.
Or trying to at least.
Natalie Sinex, of Dallas, said — while simultaneously fielding requests from her three kids— she and her husband Rob brought the family to the park for their first movie night as a way to get out of the house.
“And the kids get some energy out before the movie starts, and we’re happy with that,” she said.
Heather Yudichak, of Plymouth Township, brought her four kids for their first Forty Fort Park movie night as well.
“The kids were really looking forward to it,” she said.
The movie in the park, she said, was a neat, different thing to do, that “beats the same old, same old,” that can dominate nights out with the little ones.
Mary Beth Allen, of Forty Fort, while doing her “peripheral mom thing” in the playground, said both her kids were excited, too.
“They’ve been bouncing off the wall about it all day,” she said, and without missing a beat, Allen immediately caught one of her sons executing some flawed climbing strategy, and relieved him of the slushie impeding his progress.
Weather permitting, she said, her sons visit the park at least twice a week.
“It’s like our second home,” she said.
Cook’s Pharmacy in Kingston sponsored the event, paying for the rights to show the film.
Since Families for Forty Fort Park doesn’t charge admission, Amy Craig, founder and de facto leader of the group, said the organization was unaware they needed to purchase such rights when they started showing movies in 2013.
When the group advertised its plans to show the film “Monsters, Inc.,” she said, they received a crash course via phone call from Disney’s lawyers.
A team of ten volunteers worked Friday’s event, setting up the movie screen (handbuilt by the mayor) and audio system, and manning concession stands. They sold, among other things, popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy, generating the event’s only revenue. Profits, the workers said, are donated to Forty Fort Borough.
Tuzinski said the borough then uses proceeds gathered at park events for improvement projects, as well as preservation of the pool he once used so often. Built in the 1930s, the pool is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the last public pools remaining in the area, he said.
Beyond the pool, the mayor said he’s also interested in preserving the place where he grew up.
“Forty Fort is a nice town to raise a family and we want to keep it that way,” Tuzinski said.
He said his construction background allows him to live anywhere he wants, but instead of moving away, he chooses to cherry pick the things he admires in the places he visits, and try to apply them to his hometown.
Park events, like movie nights, pool parties and dances are designed in part to bring the people of the borough together, he said, to promote a neighborhood who’s citizens looks out for each other.
“You keep the problems out by having a strong community,” Tuzinski said. “And I think these movies in the park are a step in the right direction.”
Families for Forty Fort Park plans to hold plenty more events this summer, including more movies, fitness-oriented activities, and possibly “a very informal Father’s Day thing,” Craig said, but a July 13 craft fair is the next concrete item on the group’s agenda.
Craig said she’s still looking for vendors for the fair, and the group can always use more help organizing and staffing events.