"Paranormal Activity 2?"
"Uh, yeah. You wanna come?"
"I don't know," she said. "Isn't it going to be scary?"
"Oh, not the way we watch it," I yelled suddenly and nervously. "You see, we like to sit in the back and voice the ghost from his perspective? Like apologize for bumping into things and stuff like that? I know it might sound stupid but ..."
"That's awesome!" she said. "What time?"
And so that weekend, three close friends and a girl I wanted to know better carpooled down to Century Sparks to a matinee showing of "Paranormal Activity 2." We laughed the entire time and got the row behind us to join in on our little game. At the end of the movie, we went back to the parking lot and all went our separate ways. The girl and I hugged and agreed that we should do it again sometime.
I took my wife to that theater many times. We've seen Disney movies, musicals, raunchy comedies and period dramas, and each time, we went back to the parking lot and laughed just as we did the first time.
I have plenty of great memories of Century Sparks. I saw nearly every Harry Potter movie there, taking my youngest sister to the last one (she had barely been born when the first one came out). My best friend and I saw "Superbad" every week it was showing in that theater, among the other R-rated movies we probably shouldn't have seen. I saw my first PG-13 movie there ("Jurassic Park III"), my first 3-D movie there ("Spy Kids 3"), had my first date there, and spent hours at a Crazy Taxi machine I was certain was rigged. I spent many weekends grabbing gobs of people to cram into one movie after a week of planning and a few just going on a whim to see what's playing. Growing up, it was probably my very favorite place in Sparks.
Of course, we still have the IMAX and Park Lane and Riverside, but it still kind of breaks my heart to hear this place is closing down. I always thought it was a beautiful part of our city and a prominent piece of my childhood and adolescence. So, farewell Century Sparks, I'll always look back and remember your popcorn tasted the best, how much fun your fountain was on a hot day, I memorized all of your Coke trivia cards and you never failed to play "Kiss From a Rose" before every movie until Cinemark rolled in.
So long Century Sparks, and thanks for "Paranormal Activity 2."
Ryan Costello is a local actor and writer in Sparks.