Parkite creates Christmas cheer with free movie for children
Gary Crandall has told the story before, and his sons know it by heart.
His sons have told it often in the past few months. Crandall grew up in Burley, Idaho. His father died when he was young, and his mother provided for the family by working at the local J.C. Penney department store. Money was tight. But the holidays were always a happy time, in large part because of the free Christmas movie someone in the town would put on for all the children every year.
"He doesn’t know who — whether it was a movie theater or a local businessman or a group of people — but somebody every year would put on a free Christmas movie," said Ryan Crandall, one of Gary’s sons. "He would go with his brothers and sisters, and it’s just one of those memories for him."
Now, Gary, a Park City developer, is paying it forward. He and his sons have rented out the Holliday Village 4 Cinemas for the morning of Dec. 12 and are inviting children in the area 12 and under to watch a free screening of the movie "Elf." Additionally, Santa will be there to provide extra Christmas cheer and the children can partake in free candy and popcorn. The movie will begin at 9 a.m., and the theater has room for up to 650 children to attend.
Gary Crandall was out of the country and unable to be reached for this story, but Matthew Crandall, another son, said the movie screening is something his father has wanted to do for several years. As the event has drawn nearer, he has begun to focus much of his attention on ensuring as many children as possible attend and that the screening goes flawlessly.
"This is him reliving his childhood," Matthew Crandall said. "It’s funny to see things that you would assume would take precedence are put on the backburner for this activity he’s so excited to put on."
The Crandalls are hopeful this will become an annual event. And perhaps some of the children in attendance will go on to put on something similar in other towns in the future.
"It’s cool to think this all started from my dad’s childhood, and maybe that will spark something in somebody else, and they may go on to do this in another town somewhere," Ryan Crandall said. "The chance that this could spread is a pretty neat thought."
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Debate continues about schooling in a pandemic, as Park City students petition to stay in school, 78% of secondary teachers opt for remote, and case numbers remain low ahead of a feared post-Thanksgiving spike.