Help Save Drive-In Movie Theaters – Voting Closes September 9
It was a buck a carload on Wednesday nights at the Fort Randall Drive-In in Lake Andes, South Dakota. Mom would pop a paper grocery bag full of popcorn and stir up some Kool-Aid and pour it into a gallon jar. Dad was going to make sure it only cost $1 plus gas money to give us kids some entertainment. Those were the days.
It was 1975. I was 5 years old when I saw my first movie at the drive-in. The movie was “The Apple Dumpling Gang.” My sister and I would lay out a blanket on the hood of the car, grab some popcorn and cup of Kool-Aid and settle in. I also remember seeing “The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again” and “Grease” at the Fort Randall Drive-In.
Although we never actually “drove-in” to the PIX Drive-In in Winner, South Dakota, my aunt and uncle lived on a hill that overlooked the theater. We could see the movie and if the wind was in the right direction, even hear the audio.
Several years ago, I took my nephews to their first drive-in movie at the Starlite Drive-In in Mitchell (which is closing at the end of the season). It was my first experience at a drive-in without using the speaker on your window. I had no idea drive-ins had converted to low output FM. That was pretty cool.
The biggest problem back in those days was finding the cars who sneaked in non-paying passengers in the trunk. Today, drive-in movie theaters have a bigger problem…converting to digital.
Hundreds of drive-in theaters are expected to close at the end of the year once studios stop distributing 35mm film prints. It costs about $80,000 to convert to digital. One theater owner said it would take him 10 to 15 years to pay for that.
Honda is sponsoring a national effort to save the drive-in theater.
“Project Drive-In” aims to save as many drive-ins as possible that haven’t made the switch to digital. Honda will supply five drive-in theaters with the projectors and donations are being taken to fund as many more as possible.
How can you save your favorite drive-in? Go to Project Drive-In and cast your vote. Through September 9, you can vote for your favorite drive-in. Your vote decides where the 5 digital projectors go. You can also donate to the fund set-up to raise more money for projectors, so more theaters can win.
I made many happy memories at the drive-in theater. Don’t let this piece of history fade to black. Vote and then share this story with your friends so they vote, too. Hurry, voting closes at 10:59:59 p.m. on Monday, September 9.