Cincinnati CityBeat ran one of my favorite kind of drive-in stories yesterday. It’s a long description of how some outsiders purchased the Hamilton Auto Theatre just outside Hamilton OH in 2007 and brought it up to date while keeping as many nostalgic elements as they could. That updating passed a major milestone a couple of weeks ago when it upgraded to digital projection equipment.
The CityBeat article is a wonderful, long exploration into the story of former Disney theme park employees Todd Chancey and Mark Althoetmar, who visited the Hamilton during a roller-coaster tour and fell in love with it. “We started tying in drive-ins with our roller-coaster trips,” Althoetmar said. “We would ride coasters by day and take in drive-ins at night.”
Now the new owners painstakingly keep the place looking great. Chancey changes each little light bulb in the marquee sign and Althoetmar is trying to add more neon. The best part is that they understand why people go to the drive-in. “People will tell you they come here because they love that they can control their environment,” Chancey said. “They’re not stuck next to people like in a theater. They can sit in their car or outside their car.
There’s so much more in this article, including the odd saga of the abandoned buses. The only thing it’s missing are some good photos, but why quibble, just go read it!