July 17: Capri Drive-In Theater, Coldwater MI

It’s Day 198 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I was glad to be done with crazy long drives for a while. After 12 hours’ worth over the previous two days, the hour and a half it took to go from Liberty Center OH to the Capri Drive-In Theater in Coldwater MI felt like nothing.

The Capri was built by John and Mary Magocs and opened in August 1964. Back then it was a single screen serving up to 1000 cars. As the Capri’s story page relates, the snack bar at the time was leased to Auto City Candy Company of Detroit. Operating a Drive-In for the Magocs was a family affair. John and Mary, John Jr. and Tom, spent many a night making sure the show went off each night.

In 1977, the operation of the Capri Drive-In was leased to William Clarke of Coldwater while the Magocs resided in Florida. In 1980, Tom and John Jr. resumed operation of the theatre. One of their first decisions was to install AM radio transmission of the movie sound. All but 5 rows of speakers were removed.

In 1986, the Capri became a twin. Screen Two was added on the back side of theatre. Screen One’s car capacity was decreased to 550 cars, with Screen Two parking 300 more.

In 2016, USA Today readers voted the Capri the second-best drive-in in the US, behind only the 99W of Newburg OR. TripAdvisor reviewers give it an average of 4.5 on a scale of 5, naming it the best Thing To Do in Coldwater. It really is a very nice place to watch a drive-in movie.

For today’s video, I’ve embedded Pure Michigan’s 50th anniversary show, which is both a tribute to the end of the film era at the Capri and what feels like a year-end blooper reel. For another neat Capri video, check out the historic footage of the construction of the place; that’s also available on YouTube. It includes some especially interesting aerial shots, which makes sense considering that whole airport connection.

Thank goodness the Capri has two screens, giving me a chance to dodge Despicable Me 3 once again. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a better movie, especially if you grew up reading comic books the way I did.

Miles Today / Total:  84 / 25389 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Spider-Man: Homecoming / 114

Nearby Restaurant: The closest restaurant to this drive-in / airport combination is the Prop Blast Cafe, but I went into town for something more like the drive-in than the airport. Short’s Rootbeer Stand has the classic drive-in restaurant look with lots of neon, primary colors and classic music. And root beer and hot dogs. Timeless!

Where I Virtually Stayed: The Capri offers lodging packages, something every drive-in should consider. The package that caught my eye was for my favorite chain, the Hampton Inn. Everything was solid Hampton, including all the amenities in my room, the very nice breakfast buffet, and an On the Run breakfast bag at checkout. It makes good snacking on the road.

Only in Coldwater: The Tibbits Opera House is the second-oldest theater in Michigan. Barton S. Tibbits, mayor of Coldwater at the time, built it in 1882. It was altered to be more movie-friendly in 1934, but when the movie business faded, the Tibbits was boarded up and scheduled to be razed by the end of the 1950s. The Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council was founded in 1963 and now operates the facility year-round as a community center for the arts.

Next stop: Auburn Garrett Drive In Theatre, Garrett IN.

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