By Perry Schaible
SPRINGDALE - Gareth Williams has little free time.
Between working a weekend shift at Executive Jet Management and serving as a stay-at-home dad Tuesday through Friday for 6-month-old Zoey, he hardly ever gets out of the house.
So when he heard an advertisement for Baby Pictures at Showcase Cinemas Springdale - a program that allows new parents a chance to see the latest movies at the theater in a baby-friendly environment - he jumped at the chance.
"It was nice," Williams said after the 1 hour, 49-minute viewing of Radio. "Just being able to get out with other people and do something with the baby, too."
Almost 30 parents attended the theater's first "baby" show Tuesday morning.
The moms - and a few dads - entered the theater around 10 a.m. and settled in for a movie without fear of getting dirty looks or sharp comments over a crying baby or jumping up to change a diaper.
"I love movies and I felt like I would never get to see one again. I don't know if we'll get through the whole thing, but we'll try," said Laura Plouffe, the mother of 2-month-old Dylan, before the show.
In the end, more parents probably cried at Radio's inspirational story than did the babies who lay in their arms.
Baby Pictures was introduced in National Amusements' home state of Massachusetts in early September. National Amusements is the owner and operator of Showcase Cinemas. Success there has led officials to begin expanding the program.
"We thought that this would be a really fun way for new parents to meet other new parents" and stay current with the latest films, said Jennifer Hanson, director of corporate communication for National Amusements.
There are special conveniences for parents, such as extra lighting, lowered movie volume, and baby-changing stations in the auditorium.
By the time the lights came up Tuesday, several parents already considered Baby Pictures a success. Some encouraged others to tell their friends.
"Come back; we want them to keep doing this," Kate Romanello-Jones called out to other parents as they exited the theater.
Baby Pictures will be held every other Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Showcase Cinemas Springdale with a free 9 a.m. play session by Gymboree of Cincinnati. The next showing is scheduled for Nov. 18.
Go to showcasecinemas.com one week prior to the show for the movie title. Admission is $5.50 for adults and $1 for children 13 months to 3 years. Babies up to 12 months are free.
(Editor's note: Contributor Perry Schaible attended the movie with her 8-month-old daughter Caroline, and reports both had a good time.)
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