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Too Scared to Go to the Movies? Here are Some of the Country’s Best Drive-Ins

Too Scared to Go to the Movies? Here are Some of the Country’s Best Drive-Ins

As a child growing up in the ’60s in Indiana, few things were as sweet as a Saturday night at the drive-in. It was a cheap escape and quality family time. You didn’t have to worry about what to wear. In fact, the littlest ones often were in PJs so that as soon as we got home, they could immediately be put to b-e-d. There was something about piling into the backseat with sisters, cozy, comfortable, watching the big screen, which was way better than TV. Better still, if it was a pay week and we got to hit the concession stand. If not, the jug of Kool-Aid and homemade popcorn was just as good.

With the coronavirus, that slice of Americana so popular in the 50s and 60s, is making a comeback. “Everything old is new again,” says Michael Kilgore, who runs Carload.com and is author of Drive-Ins of Route 66.

During its peak there were some 4,000 drive-ins. As of October of 2019, there were 305, according to the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association. The vast open spaces are ideal for social distancing.  The attraction isn’t only movies, but drive-ins have also become venues for concerts, graduations and business events.

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Now, there’s a boom in pop-up drive-ins. This summer Yankee Stadium’s parking lot will become home to the Uptown Drive-In Experience with live performances by local talent, car side dinner service from street vendors, drinks, movies, games, raffles, and giveaways. Tickets are sold online on a first-come, first serve basis. This is the brainchild of MASC Hospitality Group.  Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins recently announced it will turn its field into a drive-in for the summer.  It will showcase Miami Dolphins content from the team’s history, classic movies, host commencement ceremonies, and other events. Creative entrepreneurs like Christopher Escobar, who had to close his Plaza Theatre in Atlanta mid-March because of COVID-19, turned his theater’s parking lot and that of an improv theater’s that was closed because of the pandemic into drive-ins.

So is the resurgence of the drive-in likely to fade as soon as the pandemic becomes a memory? Brynne Moseley, who along with her dad helps run the Holiday Drive In in Rockport, Indiana that her grandmother owns says, “There are not many drive-ins left in the country. I believe the fun and uniqueness of the drive-ins will always remain. Even when people will have more choices of things to do, the drive-in will still be on their list of option.”

Here’s a look-see at the doings at some drive-ins around the U.S.

Snowmass Drive-in Concerts, Snowmass, Colorado

Keeping the spirit of the Snowmass Free Concert Series alive, drive out to Snowmass Town Park for Snowmass’ new monthly Drive-in Concerts. On July 23, August 20 and September 17, a mobile stage will activate in Snowmass Town Park, featuring live music from a variety of genres and bands. Music lovers will have to maintain social distancing, remaining within their parking space.

Plaza Theatre, Cleburne, Texas

Then there’s the “drive up” live theater experience. In Cleburne, Texas “drive-in entertainment” and “car hops” is back en vogue. The Plaza troupe closed its in-the-round live theater venue because of COVID-19. They launched a new series of “drive up” theater performances. Each Saturday night a small troupe of (socially distanced) performers take the stage erected on the facility’s parking lot for a live musical revue. Guests watch from their cars, listening to the audio via their vehicle radios. Each week is a different show. Hungry? No problem, the folks at nearby Black Sheep Baa & Grill deliver dinner to your car. Admission is free, donations are appreciated.

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