Narrow Gauge gets ready for 2024

Narrow Gauge Drive-In screen at twilight with sunset in the background
Photo from the Narrow Gauge Drive-In Facebook page

It’s Spring, time for some drive-in theater news. In Maine, the Narrow Gauge Drive-In was in the news for its preparations for another season. (Also, I’ve somehow overlooked the Narrow Gauge for years.)

According to a Breaking News Network story, the Narrow Gauge endured flooding last December that damaged its infrastructure. Owner John Moore said he plans to rebuild and reopen in April.

The Narrow Gauge looks like a typical pandemic-inspired drive-in, sitting behind the indoor Narrow Gauge Cinema and holding just 60 cars. However, it opened in July 2017, so I can’t use that as an excuse why I hadn’t noticed it. Moore has added a performance stage under the screen, and has held comedy and music concerts there.

In previous seasons, the Narrow Gauge has based its admission price on the Carload, including popcorn and sodas. I’m always happy to see that. They haven’t announced anything for this year. In any event, it’s great to add another drive-in to the Carload list.

OH Starlight owner dies, drive-in closed this season

Drive-in screen at twilight with sunset in background
photo from the Starlight Drive-In Facebook page

Sad news. The Starlight Drive-In, which sits about halfway between St. Henry and Maria Stein OH, won’t reopen this year. Its owner, who was still posting movie information notes on the Starlight’s Facebook page May 8, died suddenly on May 10. According to his obituary, Dan Myers, 72, had operated the Starlight Drive-In since 1988.

Elaine Myers posted to Facebook the next day, “We are sorry to announce that the Starlight Drive-In Rt.127 119 will not be open this season.” It had been scheduled to open May 26.

I wrote more extensively about the Starlight when I paid it a virtual visit in 2017. Back then, Mr. Myers had found enough cash to convert to digital projection even though his GoFundMe appeal fell short. “If you’re ever in the area of grand Lake St. Mary’s in Ohio stop in and say hi,” he wrote. I’m sorry I never got the chance to do that.

Nothing is as important as the passing of a family member. Although it makes me feel guilty, I hope that after the Myers folks work through the emotions and practicalities of the situation, they can find someone to operate the Starlight for the benefit of all of its patrons.

Video: Rose City to reopen

I’m happy to have some really good news to report. Local entrepreneur Paul Cole is pouring half a million dollars to renovate and reopen a prized drive-in of his youth – the Rose City in Newark NY. The story came to us first from the Finger Lake Times, and WROC, Rochester’s News Leader, followed up with the YouTube video you hopefully see above.

“I remember coming here as a kid,” Cole told the Times. “They used to have a playground in the back. We were here the night my mother broke water with my brother. That was 1975.” The Rose City stayed alive for another decade, closing after the 1985 season. (Not 1981, as the Times erroneously wrote.)

Cole purchased the property this year from the estate of the late Eugene Colacino. The original screen, 100×45 feet, is still standing after decades of overlooking Highway 31. Recent aerial photos suggest that the original ramps are still in place. But the screen needs some cleanup, and for the concession-projection building, Cole is pretty much starting from scratch.

WROC said that Cole plans to have a soft launch in the fall, with an official opening following next April. (That sounds like what the reborn Tee Pee Drive-In of Sapulpa OK did last fall and this spring.) It’s great to see another classic drive-in getting restored to a modern version of its former glory.