July 11: Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre, Honor MI

It’s Day 192 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. Once again, I went driving north along the coast of Lake Michigan another two hours or more to go from Muskegon MI to the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre just west of Honor MI.

What a success story! The Cherry Bowl was so All-American that it opened on the Fourth of July in 1953. They widened their single screen in the late 1950s. According to Wikipedia, longtime owner Jean Griffin ran the business after the death of her husband (listed as L.O. Griffin) in 1959, and was known for working in high heels. Laura and Harry Clark purchased the property from Jean in 1996. Harry Clark died in 2012, and Laura continues to operate the theatre and diner.

Laura caught a big break in 2013 when the Cherry Bowl was the second winner of Honda’s Project Drive-In promotion, scoring a free digital projector to keep the movies coming.

The Cherry Bowl web site says, “Our sound system consists of the original vacuum tube motiograph amplifiers, that still power our speakers at the speaker posts.” The drive-in also has FM sound, but I do love those in-car speakers. Harry Clark installed sculptures next to the theater’s vintage speakers and 14-foot neon hot dog. One sculpture is a pink and blue Volkswagen with a clown head on it, another is a pink cow with cherries for spots, and there is classic Chevy positioned to look like it is coming through a fence.

I just had to embed Jeff Goss’s YouTube video because he shot it just two nights before I arrived. It’s the closest thing to seeing what I saw, and since my visit was only virtual, we have to rely on these real-life people to document it.

After a round of mini-golf, which every drive-in should have, I gathered up my popcorn (made from the original 1953 popper) and pizza and settled in for my seventh viewing of Despicable Me 3. On the plus side, all these back-to-back-to-back movie nights have brought my pace from a serious deficit to 205, over my 200 target for the year. We’ll see how close I can get by Labor Day.

Miles Today / Total:  121 / 24183 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Despicable Me 3 / 108

Nearby Restaurant: At the Platte River Inn, they serve breakfast till 2 in the afternoon, which I love after being on the road for a while. I went for a Denver omelet to remind me of home (near the headwaters of a longer Platte River), and a side of biscuits. Add enough coffee to keep me awake through a drive-in movie, and I was all set.

Where I Virtually Stayed: When you’re staying in Honor, you’re probably staying at the Honor Motel. This was one of those mom and pop classic motels run by people who care about the place. My room had the full set of amenities, including solid wifi. I was on my own for breakfast, but the location near the Cherry Bowl was perfect.

Only in Honor: Just like the Spud Drive-In in Driggs ID, the funkiest thing in town is the drive-in itself, or at least its set of decorations. Roadside America has some photos of the unusual painted fiberglass cow, the 8-foot fiberglass rooster, and that huge hot dog.

Next stop: Hi Way Drive-In Theatre, Carsonville MI.

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