Monday, September 9, 2013

Project Drive-In

Save the Drive-In!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The other day as I was watching videos on YouTube, I came across an ad for something called Project Drive-In.  I don't usually watch an entire ad, but this one captured my attention.  I knew there weren't many drive-in theaters left in this country, but what surprised me was the ones that are still around may not be in the next year.

There are 368 drive-ins in America.  Many of them are not equipped to make mandatory upgrades to digital projectors.  It's a costly project, estimated at more than $85,000.  Some theater owners say it would take years to pay for such an upgrade, which will likely force them to close.

That's where Honda is stepping in.  The company is spearheading Project Drive-In. It's an awareness campaign and a fundraiser to help save as many of the 368 remaining theaters as possible.  They're also donating five projectors to the cause.  You can learn more about the project by clicking right here.

Scary Wampa!
My first drive-in experience 
My first memory of the drive-in came when I was about seven years old.  My parents and their friends (who had kids who were mine and my brother's friends) took us to see a double feature: Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back.  We stretched out on the top of my parents baby blue station wagon on a blanket and listened to the action through one of those rusty old speakers. You had to listen closely to fully understand the dialouge, but no one ever complained. I still remember being scared near the beginning of Empire when Luke Skywalker was attacked by the Wampa.  That whole scene was much scarier on that giant screen. (Pardon all the geek talk there)

As the years went by, we saw plenty of other films at the drive-in, but the theaters were beginning to die out.  I grew up in the St. Louis area, and remember there were probably half a dozen different places to go.  We'd get there before sun down and all the kids would play on the playground, usually found in front of the big screen.  Once the sun started setting, we'd run back to the car to meet mom and dad for a quick trip to the concession stand.  No movie was complete without popcorn, soda, and candy.  I can still hear the sounds of car tires on the gravel for those who were arriving late as we struggled to hear what was being said on the screen.  I can see the flickering light coming out of the projection area.

One of the go to drive-ins back in the day
The last time I went was in the summer of 1991, right before I left for college.  I can't remember both films of the double feature, but one was the cheesy Jean Claude Van Dam film Double Trouble.  The drive-in is a different experience when you're older, but fun none-the-less, maybe even more so....

After moving around several times since then, I haven't lived in a town with a drive-in in more than 20 years. I know there a few within a two hour radius of here, but until now I haven't put forth any real effort to take my family.  That has to change.  I'm hoping that Project Drive-In will preserve the few existing drive-ins near me and will encourage others to help too.  There are memories to be made, and I want to give my kids a chance to do what we did when we were young.

Click the website I mentioned earlier, use the hashtag #SaveTheDriveIn when talking about it on social media, and watch the video I've included below.  Thanks for your help.

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