Valley 6, Wilmington now permanently closed

Valley 6 Drive-In signWhile it’s great fun to celebrate the birth of a new drive-in, we also need to make mention of drive-ins that pass away. Sometimes they close to great fanfare, but more often they just decline to reopen in the spring. Here are two more of those stories.

From the Auburn (WA) Reporter comes word that the Valley 6 there really looks dead. It hasn’t ordered movies for the 2013 season, and its manager passed away in December. What appears to be its official Facebook page hasn’t been updated since May 2012, and a Valley 6 fan page there (where I borrowed that Valley 6 sign photo) says its phone number is disconnected. There’s also a Facebook group with discussion from former employees.

The Washington Court House (OH) Record Herald wrote last Friday that Phillip Chakeres, the CEO of the company that owns the Wilmington Drive-In, hadn’t decided whether it will reopen this season. He “plans to make the final decision within a month.” Then yesterday, the same reporter wrote in The News Democrat of Georgetown OH that Chakeres said the Wilmington “will not open this season and its future is questionable”. The stated reason is unusual for drive-ins these days: the Wilmington was losing money.

It’s likely that there are more closings that we will only hear about after the fact; newspapers rarely publish business obituaries. The News Democrat story included an ominous note about Chakeres’s drive-ins: “Chakeres now operates three in Clayton, Springfield and Fairborn, having recently permanently shut down three in Celina, Lucasville and New Carlisle.”