Saturday, July 25, 2009

Creative Boating!

By SARAH LEMAGIE, Star Tribune

A family-friendly flotilla assembled on Lake Minnetonka to take in a show.

Boaters gathered Friday evening for a screening of “Top Gun” near Big Island at Lake Minnetonka. The second annual “boat-in” movie — think drive-in without the cars — was promoted as a family-friendly event and featured a 40-foot-wide screen mounted on a barge.

Take all the ingredients in a typical drive-in movie: snacks, friends, a classic blockbuster and a weekend night in July. Forget about the cars, though: This event is on the water.

The flotilla of watercraft that tied up Friday evening on Lake Minnetonka held boaters who weren't just there to swim and grill out. As night fell, a silver crescent of moon sparkled above the 40-foot-wide movie screen mounted on a barge at Big Island, and FM radios on boats reverberated with the sound of jet engines as "Top Gun" played on the floating screen.

The second-annual event was dreamed up by the guys at a boat dealership, who see it as a way to drum up a little business while hosting a free, family-friendly event in an area that is better known as a party spot for the younger set.

Mike Andersen and Kyle Pillsbury of MarineMax in Wayzata were brainstorming events for boaters when they came up with the idea.

"We were sitting around one night and said, 'How cool would it be to sit out on the lake and watch a movie?'" Andersen said.

Very cool, if you ask Margie Vechell, one of the several hundred boaters at Friday's movie. "It's just relaxing," said Vechell, who was bringing burgers and hotdogs for her kids and an assortment of their friends and cousins. Families tie up "boat-to-boat-to-boat," as she put it, then wander about to visit.

"We grew up boating on the lake, my family and I, and now I get to take the kids out," said Stu Francis, who brought 4-year old Isabel and 2-year-old Isaac to the movie along with apples and Gatorade.

"It's a great way to get to know other boaters," said Eileen Manning, a MarineMax customer who brought her boat out to grill burgers and make s'mores with relatives from Chicago.

Hot summer weekends can find Big Island hopping with boaters who often show up on Friday and stay until Sunday, said Lt. Kip Carver of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol.

Ron Notes:

This event happened last night about 5 miles from where I live. I don't know any boaters, nor did I hear about it in advance. Probably some connection between those two. Neither would I have gone out of my way to see Top Gun, but it's a fabulously different movie event worthy of publicity.

Moral for Café Roxy followers with a TV or movie screen... Be innovative! Have fun! Show free movies!

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