I had no idea that one of my favorite parks in Southern California, Leo Carrillo State Park, was the backdrop for many scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean 1 & 2 and one of my fave movies of all time, Grease. The iconic boulder cliffs and sandy beaches — as well as the forests and mountains — of many of California parks have served as everything from the future Earth in Planet of the Apes to the shores of France in The Iron Mask. I also did not know that our state’s 279 parks are monumentally underfunded and that 70 of them face closure without immediate donations from individuals and corporations.
The California State Parks Foundation has made it their mission to make park lovers across California aware of the grievous situation so that the parks on the closure list may be saved. The organization’s recent ParkFilmFest, held at Paramount Studios, is one annual event that has helped raise funds for the effort, by hosting mini movie festivals of films where California state parks have played a starring role.
On May 5, the Foundation hosted screenings of Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2 & 3 at Paramount, where supporters of the state parks enjoyed seeing the films in a state-of-the-art theatre with complimentary refreshments, a VIP reception, and a fun environment where audience members dressed in pirate garb and actors from the films appeared between films to talk about their roles and give autographs to fans, with ticket sales befitting the Foundation to support parks.
It was a terrific event, though sparsely attended, signaling the need for more people to get the message that our parks need their help now.
Living in the city of Los Angeles where there is very little open space, our treasured parks are for most of us the only place where we can enjoy the outdoors – surfing in the ocean, flying a kite, playing ball games, boating, fishing and picnicking. We just assume that someone is taking care of these parks and that they will always be around for us to visit, but this is not the case. Everyone’s help is needed if our parks are to stay open and accessible to the public. To find out more about what you can do to help, go to calparks.org.