Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for the Elm City to come together and bond as a community, the Town Green District of New Haven does not plan on letting the virus get in the way.
Earlier this month, the Town Green District — a community-centered nonprofit in New Haven that focuses on maintaining a clean downtown and hosting free public events — launched a new community series of events titled “Movies in the Plaza” where they host movies every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Pitkin Plaza in Downtown New Haven.
The series, which is free for all attendees, began on Sept. 2 with “Guardians of the Galaxy” and will end on Oct. 28 with “Beetlejuice.” The schedule of the event, along with the movies which will be played on each Wednesday between those dates, can be found on their website. For the month of October, all films held at “Movies in the Plaza” will be horror-themed.
“Our big efforts for community events were delayed in March, and because we want events that can be done responsibly, this is one of the only types of events that we can do,” said Francesca Vignola, the events and communications coordinator of the Town Green District.
To limit crowd size, the Town Green District requires attendees to register upon entering the plaza and encourages guests to come early to guarantee a socially distanced spot. Everyone attending must wear masks when moving around in the plaza and must bring their own chairs or blankets for seating.
“We have our staff walking around to make sure everyone is following the guidelines, and even when our staff has to remind guests, nobody gets bothered and [everyone] complies,” Vignola said.
On Wednesday, the Town Green District held a screening for the 1999 version of “The Mummy.” Many people had already arrived 30 minutes before the movie began, and some sat at tables as a group while others sat on blankets on the grass. By 8:10 when the movie began, there were about 50 attendees — both Yale students and New Haven residents alike — with all groups socially distant from each other.
“The setting was very inviting — people were in small groups and were socially distancing themselves from one another,” Michael Gabashvili ’24 said. “‘The Mummy’ was one of my favorite childhood movies, and I enjoyed reliving that experience.”
According to their mission statement, the Town Green District “strives to improve ownership values by making Downtown New Haven an internationally-competitive urban environment in which to live, work, learn and play.”
With their movie event series, the Town Green District is working through art and film to remain true to their mission of strengthening the New Haven community despite the pandemic.
“Normally we would do festivals and other big events, but it’s not safe to do at this time — especially store-to-store promotions, with touching things being a big problem,” Vignola told the News. “In a pandemic, we’re happy to hold an event for even just 50 to 75 people at the Pitkin Plaza. We’re doing what we can.”
Pitkin Plaza is located at 141 Orange St.