The smell of fresh popcorn permeated Friday as the sun set at John Day City Park for a movie night in the park.
The event, free and open to the public, will feature films in July and August at 9 p.m. on Fridays at the park, according to Lisa Weigum, Parks and Recreation board member.
Forty moviegoers spread their blankets on the grass Friday for “Harry and the Hendersons.” Weigum proudly said that the 1980s fantasy comedy about a suburban family accidentally and unintentionally bringing a Bigfoot home is his choice.
âGo outsideâ campaign
Weigum said that the movie night in the park is one of the various activities of the âGo Outsideâ campaign.
She said the campaign is a community health initiative designed to encourage people to get outside and manage their mental, emotional and physical health by participating in community events outside.
The campaign kicked off on Wednesday with the first Yoga in the Park session, according to Weigum. She said Ashley Stevick of Green Yoga Community taught the session at John Day Park. Classes will continue from 6.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. on Wednesdays in July and August.
Sponsored by the Grant County Community Health Improvement Coalition, Blue Mountain Hospital and Community Counseling Solutions, Weigum said the goal is to empower people to be part of the community and to feel connected, especially after more than a year of pandemic restrictions.
Weigum said that while local health officials have worked on similar strategies over the past two years, COVID-19 has accelerated the development of the âGo Outsideâ campaign.
She said the campaign also grew out of the hospital’s community health needs assessment.
Assessment, a component of the Affordable Care Act, requires tax-exempt hospitals to survey the communities they serve every three years and identify health needs among the general population.
âSo it really grew out of collaborative brainstorming sessions between community partners on how to better serve our community,â she said. “And how do we identify those gaps that we have all recognized.”
During these sessions, she said one of the goals is to encourage outdoor recreation and reduce drug addiction and dependence.
She said the group collectively asked, “What if we encourage people to go out, what if we offer fun and free things and offer incentives to get people out?”
Weigum said anyone who attends an event sponsored by the âGo Outsideâ campaign will automatically be entered into a raffle.
She said they would choose three different winners at the end of each month. Prices include outdoor items ranging from a Traeger grill to an inflatable paddle board and other gear.
Weigum said that Wednesday’s event this week will also have live music from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and that the Timbers Bistro will host the event.