The drive-in revival continues to build. According to The Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre PA, a man has applied to the local county zoning hearing board to be allowed to renovate and reopen the Moonlite Drive-In of nearby West Wyoming PA.
Eric Symeon of Exeter said he is negotiating to buy the property from the West Wyoming Borough, which owns the vacant site, contingent on zoning approval. The borough council seems willing to cooperate with the necessary variance to the otherwise residential area.
According to his application, Symeon wants to show movies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights between May and September. He wrote that he plans to repair the concession stand, ticket booth and screen. Based on Mike Kerick’s Flickr album of Moonlite photos from five years ago, Symeon has plenty of repair opportunities.
The slow decay of the single-screen Moonlite site has been well documented online. To watch nature reclaim the vacant lot, compare an aerial photo from the Moonlite’s heyday with this 2011 Google Earth photo and the latest from 2016. For ground-level narratives with lots of photos, check out this July 2008 post from Forgotten PA and this May 2013 entry from the Drive-In Theater Adventures blog.
When did the Moonlite open? Exactly when did it close? I could only find a few clues from Carload World Headquarters. It wasn’t listed in the 1955 Theatre Catalog, my most recent edition, so it probably opened after 1955. (It was definitely open by 1967.) I found another TCV article from 2010 that said the Moonlite’s former owners sued the borough, alleging that “sewer installation in the early 1990s caused increased water-retention issues that thwarted potential sales of the property in 2005 and 2006.” A borough solicitor said the site suffered from flooding before the sewers were installed, and that the Moonlight “has not shown a movie since the 1980s.” A PDF from that lawsuit says “the Moonlite Drive-In operated until approximately 1991.” (Hope that Symeon has a good drainage plan!)
Back to Symeon. “This is something I always wanted to do since I was little,” he told The Citizens’ Voice. “Every time I’d drive by, I’d see it just sitting there. Everyone in the valley knows about it.” The projected opening is Summer 2017. I look forward to hearing more about this project.