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As pandemic brings difficulties to local businesses, Highmark Marine lends a helping hand

Times have been hard for local small businesses, but that hasn’t stopped them from helping each other out. Cooper Curtis and his merry band at Highmark Marine have been putting on drive-in movies at the Kodiak fairgrounds, and then gifting donation proceeds to businesses in need.

“We were trying to figure out a way to give back to the community and help out and provide something fun to do with social distancing being an effect and the virus. So we decided that drive in movies would be a good idea,” Curtis said.

“So my crew and I put together a plan and we purchased a projector and a screen and kind of got a system set up where we can do drive in movies. It’s all a nonprofit, donation only operation and all the donations go to somewhere else in town, we don’t actually keep any of the money that’s generated. That first movie we did we raised was about a little over $2,000 for the Orpheum theatre, because they’ve been not able to do normal show times for their movies.”

Their next showing, slated for 7 p.m. this Friday night weather permitting, will benefit the Kodiak Fairgrounds, which has been kind enough to host them for these events.

“We’re just trying to help everybody out, and also it provides kind of an outlet for community members to do something fun, there’s not a whole lot going on these days,” Curtis said. “So that’s kind of the goal we had going into this and the first event was a huge success. I think there were well over 200 vehicles out there. In each vehicles probably got anywhere from two to four or five people in it.”

According to Curtis, these events have local sponsors, who pay out the license fee to show the film. This week will be sponsored by the Wildflower Kodiak dispensary- coincidentally, the movie will be “Dazed and Confused.”

“When they sponsor, that means they pay for the copyright license for that movie. They’re usually around $500 for us to be able to show the movie one time. So we purchased the license, they basically pay us back for that. And then we get to give them a little recognition before the movie starts. The show times are usually at 7pm, all you have to do is drive out there,” Curtis said.

“You show up and we direct you where to park. And then you tune your radio to the radio station that’ll be displayed on the screen… we have a radio FM transmitter that will transmit to everybody’s vehicles, the sound of the movie. And then we play the movie. And that’s really about it. We’re asking for donations when people pull in if they want, completely optional and again, all the donations go to whoever that event is organized for- like I said, this next one is to benefit the fairgrounds, they’ve been very generous in allowing us to do this operation out of their property, it’s a good spot and so we would definitely want to show them some appreciation.”

Those looking to learn more about this event can find out more at the HMF Drive In Movies Facebook Group. The night of the event, the Orpheum Theater will be open to sell popcorn and other concessions.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited to reflect the most current information. An earlier version of this story referred to a website being used to sell tickets to this event; that is no longer current, Highmark Marine is expecting to have plenty of parking at the fairground and does not presently see the need to sell reserved tickets.