Cinephiles flock to Sugar Beach by land and sea for TPA’s 100th

A flotilla of boats and an army of movie lovers descended on the waterfront at Sugar Beach this weekend to help mark the 100th anniversary of the Toronto Port Authority (TPA).

Sail-In Cinema, billed as the first floating movie theatre of its kind in North America, featured three nautical-themed movies shown on a 28-foot double-sided screen, which was positioned to allow boaters to see the movie from the water and landlubbers to watch from the shore.

“I logged in and out of the TPA website many times trying to score some free tickets,” moviegoer Tony Carpini said.

Carpini drove in from Etobicoke to Sugar Beach at the foot of Lower Jarvis St. on Friday to catch Jaws, one of three movies chosen in online voting.

“It was well worth it because the sound system is excellent and it has given us the opportunity to see this cool new extension to Toronto’s waterfront,” Carpini said.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea kicked off the celebration on Thursday evening and lighthearted family flick Finding Nemo wrapped things up on Saturday.

To claim room among the 1,200 spots in the priority seating area, moviegoers were given the chance to secure and print free tickets from the TPA website. Tickets for Jaws and Finding Nemo were gone by early Thursday morning.

In the run-up to the TPA’s 100th anniversary, its staff came forward with a flurry of ideas on how to celebrate the milestone, including a rubber ducky race and a kite flying contest, which lost out in the end to the idea of a buoyant silver screen.

“We had people responding in droves to our ideas through Facebook,” said Suzanna Birchwood, public affairs director for the TPA. “Torontonians love movies and this is certainly reflected in the overwhelming response we’ve received.”

Sail-In Cinema was meant as a one-off celebration for the 1ooth anniversary of the TPA but the positive reaction may change that, she said.

“We are really pleased at the overwhelming response from our neighbours both new and old,” Birchwood said. “I think it’s safe to say that there could very well be a repeat of this event.”