Parkland FL’s Occasional Drive-In Returns Saturday

Rows of cars lined up in front of an inflatable screen

Photo from the City of Parkland

The City of Parkland FL hosts a free semi-annual drive-in at its equestrian center, and its next date is this Saturday, when it’s showing Cars 3.

According to Special Events Coordinator Alexandra Valle, the program started about four years ago, before she arrived. They rent a 33-foot high inflatable screen from Twilight Features, which also handles the projector. Local businesses sponsor the event.

Unlike a lot of places that show movies in the park for viewers on blankets, (although Parkland does that too), this is a true drive-in experience. Valle said that they’ve fit 800 cars into the area, which also has limited grassy seating near the screen. Many people sit on top of their cars to see the movie at a better view on the flat field.

Which brings me to my metaphysical question: Is this a drive-in theater? It’s always in the same place, and cars truly drive in to watch a movie. Sure, it uses an impermanent screen, but so does the Blue Starlite. But Valle argued against the notion. “We utilize the Equestrian Center large open field and raised berm to show a movie twice a year,” she said. “It is not built on a slant for a real drive-in experience. We also use this field for other special events such as our Farmers’ Market.”

I don’t think a flat viewing area or a market prevent the Parkland from being a drive-in; just think of all the drive-ins with flea markets. On the other hand, if it has only two active dates a year, that puts it in Manistique territory, and I haven’t added that one to the Carload list. I guess I need to add a minimum to the definition of an active drive-in.

In any event, it’s great to see a city provide a taste of the drive-in to its residents and visitors. I hope that more municipalities move beyond movies in the park to something more like Parkland’s almost-drive-in.