AL’s Cinemagic to close

2013 photo © Brad Smith, from the Carload Flickr pool

Although a few drive-ins open every year, another few close when their retiring owners can’t find anyone willing to take over. It sounds like that’s what happened in Athens AL, where the Cinemagic Drive-In will close at the end of July because its owner, Ralph Freehauf, is selling the place to someone who plans to develop the site into a church.

According to WAFF, Huntsville’s News Leader, the Cinemagic opened in 1997 and added an adjacent indoor theater in 2006. (I praised that combination when I made just my 11th stop on my Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey in 2017.) Freehauf told WAFF that he had hoped to sell it to someone who would keep the Cinemagic as a theater, and there was a note that the new owners will keep two of the projectors for possible future movie nights.

“We did our best over the 25 years that we’ve had the drive-in, and 15 years that we’ve had the indoor to give them a pleasurable experience watching a movie,” Freehauf said.

If you head over to that WAFF link, you can watch some video (which I couldn’t embed here, darn it) of the Cinemagic’s final month. I appreciate that Freehauf gave his patrons notice so they can enjoy one last trip for a show under that stars.

Video: Transit Drive-In sold

This sounds scary, but maybe it’ll work out. Longtime friend of this web site, Rick Cohen, announced this week that he’s selling the Transit Drive-In of Lockport NY to Dipson Theatres, which owns some of nearby Buffalo’s indoor theaters. As you can see in the video above, Cohan chose Dipson because it had the best chance of keeping the Transit operating because of their local presence.

Thanks to WGRZ, Buffalo’s News Leader, we know that the Transit is still doing well, but Cohen was just looking to retire and enjoy life. I hope that one of these months, after he’s got some great times out of his system, he sits down to write the Transit’s history, or maybe that of all New York drive-in theaters. He’s already shown that he can write – check out this poignant tale he contributed here a few years ago. Best wishes to Cohen and the Transit, soon to be two separate entities.

Rhode Island has a second drive-in

Photo from the Misquamicut Drive-In Facebook page

How the heck did I miss this one? The humble Misquamicut Drive-In, across Atlantic Avenue from Wuskenau Town Beach, has been entertaining Westerly RI motorists since July 7, 2011. That year, the Misquamicut Business Association tapped George Tattersall, of Tattersall Builders, to design and built a 16-by-25-foot screen for the theater. It started with AM radio sound, though it uses FM sound these days.

Viewers are charged by the carload, a very sensible idea, and the Misquamicut shows a mixture of classic and recent movies. The drive-in idea was an outgrowth of Misquamicut Classic Car Cruise Nights, which have been going on since 2001.

The drive-in, which holds about 100 cars on its flat lot, was a big hit from the start, and interest grew even stronger after the Covid pandemic started. Tickets for the Misquamicut are offered at its web site, and its opening night in 2020 sold out in less than two hours. It looks like the association has added more movie nights this year, a tribute to its popularity.

Although it’s not very traditional, without an old-school drive-in’s concentric ramps, I’m still embarrassed that I hadn’t noticed the Misquamicut before. I’m glad that’s fixed.