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Help Save Drive-In Movie Theaters – Voting Closes September 9

Tammy Makram, Verne Drive In Facebook

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.

Project Drive-In

 

 

 

 

 

 

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