Penguins to slide into Eccles Center |

Penguins to slide into Eccles Center

by Dan Bischoff, Of the Record Staff

The relationship is unique. The merging of Warner Brothers and the Park City Education Foundation may be unheard of across the country.

"It is my understanding that we are the only school district in the country. We are the only education foundation that they make this donation to," said Carri Gibbs-Luse, Park City Education Foundation (PCEF) board member and chair of the Benefit Premier Fundraiser that shows a Warner Brothers movie the day before it is released.

This year’s movie will be "Happy Feet," rated PG. It’s an animated comedy adventure set in the land of Emperor Penguins. The film features a star-studded cast of voices such as Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving and the late Steve Irwin.

"Everyone will enjoy this movie," Gibbs-Luse said. "It’s the fun, feel-good movie of the season."

The "Happy Feet" Benefit premiere will take place Nov. 16 starting at 5 p.m. at the Eccles Center. The movie will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30, kids and students are $15.

"We’ve had this wonderful relationship with Warner, this is the seventh year with them," said Lynn Heinlein, director of (PCEF). "It provides us the opportunity to have a family benefit as opposed to a more typical dinner auction benefit. This film is a great opportunity for younger families to come and provide for kids in the school."

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The relationship with Warner Brothers came about because of a dedicated PCEF board that wouldn’t take no for an answer. They continued to call Warner Brothers and finally the company gave them a copy of the first Harry Potter movie.

"They were so impressed about how Park City embraced the first event that they decided to continue it," Heinlein said. "This year we’ll have penguins and a dance show. They will be impressed. People will not have a lack of penguins when they come. The movies are always this time of year. We’ve been lucky to have them."

While other school districts may not have the rights to a sneak-peek at a movie, they do have a focus on supporting education.

"I think Warner Brothers is a company that encourages children and families in various ways to succeed," Gibbs-Luse said. "They do maintain these outreach programs for the benefit and educational benefit of kids."

The event is more than just a movie. Volunteers have spent many hours decorating the Eccles Center to a winter theme.

"This year, Diane Millett the production designer on Everwood and a local Parkite is the production designer. She has designed the set pieces for the event," Gibbs-Luse said.

"Two special lades that have volunteered all their time are Cassandra Reback and Ginny Queri. They both have given endless amounts of time and artistic expertise for this event and I’m just grateful. I couldn’t have done it without them," Gibbs-Luse said.

The Park City High School Dance Troupe will perform at 5:30 p.m. People will be dressed as penguins throughout the venue. Hogle Zoo is donating a feed-the-penguins program that a lucky student will win. The winner and 10 friends will be able to travel to the zoo and feed the animals. Hogle Zoo is donating six family passes and Warner Brothers will give away activity books based on the movie. The PCEF will also provide educational opportunities about penguins in schools. Gibbs-Luse said, as usual, there will be a few surprises for attendees.

"The children can come to this with high expectations," Gibbs-Luse said. It’s an evening of winter wonders and we not only provide live entertainment before the movie but we will do door prizes and giveaway items as well as goodie bags. It’s shaping up to be an exciting evening for the kids."

This event is also becoming an exciting opportunity for Gibbs-Luse, who has lived in Park City about a year.

"This has allowed me to contribute and give back to the community as a newcomer," Gibbs-Luse said. "I’m very passionate about public schools and empowering public schools."

Gibbs-Luse moved from Atlanta where she worked on economic development for the Georgia Film Commission.

"I found when I arrived here that the level of parent involvement in education is similar," Gibbs-Luse said. "I felt welcome and right at home to contribute. I was real suited for this event based on my background."

The PCEF relies on its fundraisers throughout the year to help children in Park City to receive scholarships and opportunities to succeed. This year it is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

"In 20 years we have raised $20 million for the schools," Heinlein said. "There’s always more and more need for those kinds of programs. The funding can be tight. This is an opportunity for our community and for businesses to be sponsors and to raise funds for the programs. We go out and raise the funds to make those wishes happen."

The "Happy Feet" Benefit Premiere presented by the Park City Education Foundation and sponsored by Zoins Bank, Empire Pass, The Grand Lodge, Wolf Creek Ranch, Ironwood and Warner Brothers will take place Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children and students. Tickets are available at the Eccles Center Box Office, Zions Bank Branches, J.W. Allen and Sons Toys and online at .