July 19: Starlight Drive-In, Maria Stein OH

It’s Day 200 (yay!) of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I was back across the border, driven by the need to catch a drive-in on the right day of the week. In this case, it took me less than two hours to go from the Auburn Garrett Drive In Theatre, just north of Garrett IN, to the Starlight Drive-In, between St. Henry and Maria Stein OH.

According to Cinema Treasures, the Starlight Auto Theatre opened in June 1948, built and operated by the Feltz brothers from Cassella OH. It had a capacity of 300 cars and a 50 feet high by 46 feet wide screen tower. (It looks wider now.) Eventually, the Starlight converted from in-car speakers to an AM/FM sound system.

After having various owners over the years, the Starlight Auto Theatre was sold to Joanne Myers and her son Dan in 1987. Joanne started working at the auto theatre in 1968.

In early 2015, Dan Myers launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a digital projector. Myers wrote, “We are a family owned and operated theater, for the last 28 years we’ve had our drive-in opened every summer with great movies and many memories about going to drive-in theaters and watching the shows under the stars.” Within a couple of months, he had found enough cash to lease a projector for a year.

Just a month ago, Myers issued an update, noting “we are open for the third season since the upgrade.” Other upkeep projects around the Starlight have been delayed because the new projector required so much cash, so they’re still looking for donations. “If you’re ever in the area of grand Lake St. Mary’s in Ohio stop in and say hi.”

Opening night for the Starlight was delayed a week when the lot flooded after a heavy rain. Glad I missed that! This place has an odd schedule of Friday to Sunday plus Wednesday, which is why I scheduled this visit for a Wednesday night. I haven’t seen the latest Transformer episode very often, though that’s probably a good thing.

Miles Today / Total:  89 / 25526 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Transformers: The Last Knight / 116

Nearby Restaurant: Well I just had to try the Korner Kafe in Maria Stein. You can just guess where it is – on the corner at the intersection of the two highways that go through town. On the other hand, the name sounds like a coffee shop but it’s really more of a sports bar. I grabbed a sandwich and a beer and was ready to face a night at the Starlight.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The Starlight is about halfway between St. Henry to the west and Maria Stein to the east, but the closest chain hotels are 10 miles north in Celina on the other side of Grand Lake. The Best Western Celina greeted me with cookies in the evening and an adequate breakfast in the morning. In between, my room had the full set of amenities, and that was all I needed.

Only in Maria Stein: Devout Catholics visiting the region will definitely want to make a pilgrimage to the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, which houses over 1,000 relics of the Saints and the True Cross. The Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived here in 1844 and started building the first chapel and convent. Now there are several chapels, a heritage museum, and the Pilgrim Gift Shop.

Next stop: Auto Vue Drive-In, Sidney OH.

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