Disabled 7-year-old ejected from theater
By Dave Richardson
Town of Wallkill – If you're a 7-year-old kid with cerebral palsy and autism, you have to take your laughs anywhere you can get them.
Just don't have too much fun at the local movie theater, or you might get thrown out.
That's what happened to young Anthony Pratti this week. To say his parents are upset about it would be an understatement.
Anthony, who uses a wheelchair, was with his parents, his sister and his grandmother at the Loews Cineplex theaters in the Galleria at Crystal Run Sunday, watching a 1:15 p.m. matinee of the G-rated film "March of the Penguins."
The family sat in the wheelchair section provided by the theater. Anthony was having a good time, said his mom, Gina Pratti.
"He was laughing, but he really wasn't much louder than any of the other kids," she said.
About 15 minutes into the film, one of the theater's managers approached the family, she said.
"He said our son was laughing too loud," Pratti said. "My husband told him Anthony didn't understand, that he was disabled, but that we'd try to quiet him down."
Not good enough, apparently – the manager brusquely told the family that Anthony had to leave, Pratti said.
Outraged, the family followed the manager to the lobby, where they were told they all didn't have to leave – just Anthony, Pratti said.
Pratti was dumbfounded.
"I said to him, what are we supposed to do, wheel him outside and leave him there?" she said.
The manager refunded the family's ticket purchase and sent them on their way, she said.
Pratti and her husband have spent the past three days making phone calls and sending e-mails, trying to get someone – anyone – from Loews to give them an explanation.
"Not one person from Loews has called me back," Pratti said.
When contacted by the Times Herald-Record yesterday, a representative of Loews corporate headquarters said the company is concerned by Pratti's story, and is looking into Sunday's events.
The company says it will issue a statement today.
Pratti has spoken with attorneys about the incident, but isn't sure she wants to pursue any legal action.
Meanwhile, Pratti says she hopes Loews will do whatever it takes to make amends.
"This was only the third movie Anthony had ever seen, and now we're afraid to go back because they might throw us out again," Pratti said.
Explanations aside, Pratti has a simple message for the manager she says publicly humiliated her son:
"Shame on you."