Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license
Drive-ins are often glamorized by classic movies such as “Grease” or “The Outsiders”, but with this vintage form of entertainment making a comeback due to social distancing guidelines, it gives people the chance to experience movie watching in an old fashioned way.
The very first drive-in movie was held in Camden, New Jersey in 1933. The concept of drive-in movies really took off in the 1950’s though, when more than 4,000 drive-ins were available for entertainment across the country according to ourstate.com. Teens would typically go to a drive-in with friends or a significant other.
Some people even took a crafty approach to getting in for free.
“I remember going to see a Jack Lemmon movie with some of my friends at the time,” Shorewood resident Bob Kosowski said. “We were all in the trunk.”
Both old fashioned and modern drive-ins are usually hosted in some sort of lot with a big screen in order to display a movie or other form of entertainment. The idea is for vehicles to be aligned and parked in a way so that one can view the movie from their car seat and listen to the movie through the radio.
“I went to see ‘Despicable Me’ at a drive-in with my family over the summer,” senior Emma Posont said. “I liked being in my car because it added an extra comfort while watching the movie.”
Drive-ins have made a comeback this year due to social distancing and gathering restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. Since the movie is watched from a car, it is easy to maintain a six foot distance from others, but there are still rules in place in order to keep guests as safe as possible.
At McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry, Ill, they ask that “if you must get up and move 6’ beyond your vehicle, you must wear a face mask,” according to goldenagecinemas.com.
The McHenry Outdoor Theater that has been showing movies since 1951, and is one of the oldest drive-in theaters in Illinois.
“I think the vintage nostalgic feel definitely attracts people,” senior Falasha Mahadevia said. “It’s also commonly seen in classic movies like “Grease”, so I think people enjoy feeling like they are in a movie.”
Suzy Le Clair of Duff Entertainment usually does organization and marketing for concerts and other live events, but because of the pandemic, drive-ins were the next best thing.
“Those of us in entertainment had to make a decision with Covid,” Le Clair said. “Sit and wait to see what this crazy thing brings…or be innovative and make a move. Drive-in is the safest move for all of us.”
Duff Entertainment has created a drive-in experience at the Schaumburg Boomers Stadium. The stadium, typically reserved for minor league baseball, started hosting Chicago Blackhawks playoff watch parties for fans to enjoy, while remaining socially distant.
“We had been in discussions with the Blackhawks for lifestyle events,” Le Clair said. “The viewing parties were their shift to innovate and connect with their fans.”
Schaumburg Boomers Stadium has also hosted “Carpool Concerts” which were local bands playing in a drive-in style. Tickets ranged from $30-$100, depending on how many people were in the car, and whether or not they were in the first four rows.
“Drive-ins offer a good change from binging on the couch, having social distance in your yard and again, seeing people outside of your bubble safely,” Le Clair said. “…and just having fun!”