Sept. 13: Cape Breton Drive-in Theatre, Sydney NS

It’s Day 256 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It was another day of long hours (five of them) driving through lonely, tree-lined highways in the Canadian maritime provinces. This time, the trip was from Cambridge NS to the Cape Breton Drive-in Theatre in Sydney, near the eastern tip of Nova Scotia.

As described by its now-abandoned web site (found on Archive.org), the Cape Breton was “owned and operated by James and Toula Sifnakis … since July 10, 1975.” Its history appears to have been uneventful from then until 2013. That’s when James and Toula’s son Angelo Sifnakis had to decide what to do about the need to convert to digital projection.

“I’d love to take the leap but the thing is, is that the drive-in has to become more than just a drive-in theatre,” the younger Sifnakis told the Cape Breton Post in August 2013. “I want to make it into a recreational park but that’s going to take hoards of money and need some government help and so forth.”

When the Cape Breton closed after the 2013 season, its web site said “We look forward to our Spring 2014 opening,” but it stayed closed. Its marquee eventually said that the drive-in was closed for the 2014 season.

May 2015 brought good news. “I expect to try to have the drive-in open, let’s say the last weekend of May, or first weekend in June,” Sifnakis told CTV News. Because we’ve been shut down for a year, we’re going to have to do some repairs.”

Now the Cape Breton is open seven days a week during the summer and weekends at the edges of the season, like this day. If I could wait around for another couple of nights, there’s a triple bill scheduled for Friday, but I’ve got more drive-ins to visit and more lonely highways to drive to get there.

I really don’t like portrait-mode video, but today’s YouTube embed above is topical (May 2017) and a nice picture of what the Cape Breton experience is like. There’s another video, from 2011 and with fewer details, over here.

Miles Today / Total: 308 / 30062 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 163

Nearby Restaurant: I had to eat at a local legend, the food truck known as Fuzzy’s Fries. It’s been around forever, selling “chips” with a touch of salt and vinegar, but no ketchup. Well, it’s moved into the modern world in one small way; if you really want ketchup, they’ll give it to you.

Where I Virtually Stayed: It had been far too long since I stayed at a good old Hampton Inn. The Sydney location has in indoor pool with a 90-foot long, double corkscrew water slide. For my room, I sprang for the suite with all the modern amenities plus a fireplace. The breakfast was standard Hampton, which is a pretty good standard. I’m feeling closer to home already.

Only in Sydney: Out on the boardwalk, not so far from Fuzzy’s, you’ll find the Big Fiddle, a 55-foot high violin statue created by Sydney artist Cyril Hearn and unveiled in 2005. It’s called the “Largest Ceilidh Fiddle in the World”.

Next stop: Sussex Drive In, Sussex NB.

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