Big screen, big vision

Seated, in salvaged Liberty Theater seats, around a giant firepit, people sit comfortably on a cold December evening to watch “The Polar Express.” Several propane heaters add to the warmth of the events.

Seated, in salvaged Liberty Theater seats, around a giant firepit, people sit comfortably on a cold December evening to watch “The Polar Express.” Several propane heaters add to the warmth of the events. Photo by Greg Lehman.

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They might not be fancy, red-carpet movie premieres, but they feel that special to the dozens of guests who routinely attend outdoor screenings of family friendly fare at Marty and Susan Huie’s outdoor theater.

A couple of times a month on average, the spacious backyard of the Huies’ 4½-acre property off Ransom Road doubles as a retreat for invited lovers of film wanting to find fellowship and fun.

Most recently, on Dec. 13, with temperatures dipping into the 30s, about 80 people were kept warm by a giant fire pit and seven propane-powered heaters as they huddled together enjoying the 2004 fantasy film “The Polar Express.”

They snacked on hot dogs and potluck goodies, and some sat in seats salvaged from Walla Walla’s historic Liberty Theater.

It’s all hosted by a couple who find strength and inspiration through sharing.

“It started four years ago after my first heart attack,” Marty Huie shared in a recent interview.

“I’ve always been a person of faith. And I started asking questions about what I should be doing with what’s left in the fuel tank.”

So one day about 3 a.m., he had a powwow with his Creator, he said.

What transpired was a desire on the part of the 61-year-old father of two grown children to share movies that focus on families and build character in young adults.

“I want to get people together and be in fellowship with one another in a safe environment,” Huie said, recalling when he was growing up in Walla Walla and his folks loaded the family in the station wagon for a trip to a local drive-in.

“I want to build memories, especially for kids.”

Those impressions during movie nights — sometimes double features attended by up to 110 people — are constructed by projecting high-definition DVD videos onto a 21-foot screen accompanied by surround sound.

Marty and Susan have presented the likes of “Rio” and “Up” for kids.

And “The Sound of Music” for seniors, with youngsters serving popcorn.

The Huies especially like to focus on films based on true stories, such as “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” about the life of the famed neurosurgeon.

At first, primarily fellow members of the Blue Mountain Community Church attended the movie nights.

“But we’ve wanted it to grow by people telling people in a relationship,” Marty Huie said. “Bring in the family, tell your neighbors and tell your friends.”

It’s all free. All to connect with others.

Like Gabriel DeLong, who’s on the mission staff of the Christian-based mentorship program Young Life for Lincoln High School. He often takes five to 20 students to the movie events and “they love them,” he said, adding it’s a beautiful, inspirational atmosphere and a safe place.

“It means a lot to me and my wife, Laurel, personally, to know people who are willing to open up their land, their property and their home to these kids.”

Known by many as a professional photographer, Marty Huie said the community has been good to him.

“I’ve just been wanting to give back in a way that makes sense to me. As much as I could,” he added.

“We need each other. We were built that way.”

For more information, or to express interest and request an invitation, visit “The Huie’s Outdoor Theater” Facebook page.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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