AVON PARK - Although he will never get to enjoy actually watching, Bobby Talley is more concerned that others will be able to catch a free movie and, more importantly, spend time with family in friends.
Talley, 59, lost his sight to meningitis at age 4, but he and his wife, Judy McCarter, have made plans to begin showing free movies once a month on Lake Verona beach.
The couple took their idea to the Avon Park City Council during the March 24 regular meeting to get city support and have already purchased and received a 128-square-foot movie screen, digital projector and sound system.
Friday, on the grassy circle near the beach, Talley and McCarter joined Monica Doyle, Amir Ghassemi and Ghassemi's son, Stephen Beaudim, to go through a trial set-up of the movie system. There, they put together the speakers and cables, set up the projector, assembled the screen and put it up, tethering it with flexible cords.
Within 20 minutes, it was up and ready for use.
"I just want families and people to get together and have picnics and enjoy a movie," said Talley, just after helping hoist up the screen. "I would like to bring families back together and not lose contact and this is a simple way to do that."
As the screen set-up trial run was underway, Doyle, owner of the Mason City, Iowa-based certified business and technical assistance consulting company "Just Show Me How," made sure everything was aligned. She got involved with Talley and McCarter's effort after meeting Talley through a company regional supervisor during a conference in 2013.
A vocational-rehabilitation counselor in Avon Park got Doyle in touch with him and she decided to get on board with Talley's movie idea. She said it would give people an incentive to get together and spend time downtown in the evenings.
"We thought about having games and the movie to bring a sense of community to Donaldson Park and back to downtown," she said.
Ghassemi, who became friends Talley and McCarter after meeting them at a festival downtown two years ago, said he was volunteering in the movie effort because of Talley's determination to make the city better despite his visual detriment.
He said the $3,700 movie system was delivered to Talley's business, Sight Unseen Enterprises -- a recreational equipment rental company -- March 17. The screen was paid for through Talley's vocational rehabilitation funding.
"If you ask me, Bobby is blind and has the excuse to not work. There are a lot of people that can work that just lay around. Bobby is blind but has the motivation to work and be successful," he said, when asked why he volunteered his time with the project.
During the city council meeting, council members were enthusiastic about Talley's idea and said they would support the project once it cleared any legalities. City Manager Julian Deleon said the effort needs to be evaluated for regulatory issues before the city could officially support the effort.
Avon Park city councilman Park Sutherland said he supported the idea in its concept and admires Talley and McCarter's tenacity to make their hometown better.
"They have my individual support. I think it's a great idea. I think anything that draws the community together is a good thing," he said. "I admire the Talley's and their dedication to Avon Park," he said.
As of Friday, Doyle said Talley and McCarter had chosen the 1989 baseball classic movie "Field of Dreams" as for the series' premier showing. She said with the city's approval, they hope to have the projector rolling within three weeks.
"This gets people a sense of community and back to the simple things. You don't get an iPad, you get a bean bag and simple entertainment," she said.
Doyle said the date of the tentative first movie is pending but will be announced in the media as soon as it's set.
The City of Sebring also periodically offers outdoor movies on its downtown plaza.