July 8: Sunset Drive In Theater, Hartford MI

It’s Day 189 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took just a bit over an hour to drive north from Plymouth IN to the Sunset Drive In Theater, halfway between Hartford and Watervliet MI.

According to a 2010 article in The Herald-Palladium via Hartford History, the Sunset opened in 1948. Glenda and Neal Edwards purchased the Sunset in 2003 and have been running it ever since. “Originally we purchased this thinking that our children would run it. They’ve kind of outgrown it, and here we are,” she said, laughing.

Their son told The Herald-Palladium about a question I get sometimes via email.  “The silliest question that I get is, ‘What time does the movie start?’ I get asked that all the time,” he said.

In an earlier article in the Kalamazoo Gazette, Glenda said, “The appeal is that people have more choices here” than they do in a standard movie theater. “You can sit outside the car and chit-chat if you want to. Parents can watch the kids run around.”

“People have given up on them (drive-ins) over the years, but you put something into them, they start coming back. It’s like watering a plant,” she said.

Above, I’ve embedded a 2013 YouTube video by Outdoor Moovies, whose camera work (or camera equipment) has improved over its many years of sharing drive-in memories. Thanks!

The weekend-only, single-screen Sunset had a great double feature this night: Despicable Me 3 followed by the new Spider-Man movie. Too bad I can never stay up late enough for the second show. This was my fifth DM3 viewing, so I’m starting to memorize parts of the dialogue.

Miles Today / Total:  70 / 23958 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Despicable Me 3 / 105

Nearby Restaurant: The Arrowhead Bar & Grill in Hartford is just that, a bar and grill, but it does its job well. For the grill part, I had the Arrowhead burger with bacon, barbeque sauce, and an onion ring, served with homemade potato chips instead of fries. And then there was the bar part, with cold beer on tap. It was a solid way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The closest hotel was the Fairfield Inn in Watervliet. Never mind an indoor pool, this place has a whole water park attached to it, though it’s not free for hotel guests. My room had a mini-fridge, solid wifi, and a clean, comfortable bed. Breakfast included a waffle and a few other hot items. For being the closest hotel, this was pretty good.

Only in Hartford: The Sunset sits halfway between Hartford and Watervliet MI, where the local VFW post displays one of the very few World War I cannons made in the US. According to Roadside America, only 200 of this type were produced. After it arrived in France, it was rechambered to 120mm to make the supply of ammuntion easier.

Next stop: 5 Mile Drive in Movie Theater, Dowagiac MI.

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