Aug. 1: Starlite Drive-In Theatre, Amelia OH

It’s Day 213 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took just a little over an hour to drive from Hamilton OH northwest of Cincinnati to the Starlite Drive-In Theatre in Amelia OH, southeast of Cincinnati.

According to its Facebook page, the Starlite opened in 1947. World War II veteran Jerry Jackson from Williamburg OH built it and owned it “until about 1968.” In the 1980s, reference works suggest that it was owned by Holiday Amusements, which ran a lot of drive-ins in the Cincinnati area.

The Starlite converted to digital projection in early 2013, and The Clermont Sun interviewed manager Ken Aultz. “The picture is excellent,” Aultz said. “The image is brighter and sharper and the stability is perfect.” The article also noted that Debbie Brooks had owned the Starlite for about 20 years and was its third owner.

In March 2015, Brooks noticed that the previous winter’s moisture had highlighted problems with the original screen tower’s support timbers. (Did that have anything to do with the new screen they mounted on it the year before? I couldn’t find any mention of that.) With sadness, she had the old, doomed screen dismantled and a modern steel screen erected in its place just in time for a Memorial Day Weekend opening.

The YouTube video for this post is a nice change of pace from drone aerial photography. It’s a time lapse view of a busy night at the Starlite, including that gorgeous old screen tower still in the background. The new screen works just as well, but that old one had history!

It was Carload night at the Starlite, but not only did leave off the .com, that modern screen had The Emoji Movie. Entertainment Weekly gives the movie a grade of F, writing, “it looks terrible, but it’s fun to imagine how much more visually experimental your niece’s remake will be, when she borrows her mom’s iPhone and uses her crayons to draws expressions on leftover lemons and doesn’t feel the need to include constant product-placing references.” So it’s not just me. But the Starlite itself is a great place to watch a movie, whenever there’s a movie worth watching.

Miles Today / Total:  57 / 26339 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Emoji Movie / 128

Nearby Restaurant: With a short drive, I had plenty of time for a late breakfast (or breakfast for lunch, however you want to put it), so I stopped at Poochie’s Place. This little place is where the locals go for their down-home cooking. I tried a peanut butter cup pancake with my egg white Western omelette. And lots of coffee. Great stuff!

Where I Virtually Stayed: There don’t seem to be any hotels in Amelia per se, so I went just a few miles up the road to the Best Western Clermont on the fringes of Cincinnati. It’s just across a parking lot from a White Castle, so that’s a plus. My comfy room had the full set of amenities, and breakfast was especially strong. On top of all that, I paid less than for most chain hotels.

Only in Amelia: At the end of the shortest path from Amelia to the Ohio River, you’ll find New Richmond and the Cardboard Boat Museum. You see, New Richmond holds its RiverDays Celebration every third weekend of August, and that includes a cardboard boat regatta. There have been so many interesting entrants that the museum was created to show them off. You’ll see ​the Bat Boat, a Delta Queen paddlewheel replica, a John Deere tractor, a coffee cup, the Miss Mudwiezer HydroPlane, and many more.

Next stop: Melody 49 Drive-In, Brookville OH.

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