I’m a little embarrassed to have overlooked this one for so long. Back in 2017, I was excited to notice the reopening of the old US 2 Drive-In in Manistique in Michigan’s upper peninsula, at least for a few shows. I even paid it a virtual “visit” that year as part of my Drive-In-A-Day Odyssey.
After two years of tentative plans and occasional movies, the drive-in showed signs in the summer of 2019 that the experiment was over. (That’s why I hesitated to add it to the Carload drive-in theater list.) In fact, that’s about when the Upper Peninsula Film Union acquired the place and changed its name to the Highway 2 Community Drive-In Theater. The great news is that the Highway 2 is continuing to show movies, with four more dates set for 2022.
“Community” is much more than just a word in the drive-in’s name. Different sponsors pay the licensing fee for each night’s movies. Different charities run the concession stand and keep the proceeds. Patrons are admitted free, and this fine old ozoner gets a fresh set of faces every month or so.
The original US 2 was built in 1953 by J. L. LeDuc, who owned the indoor theaters in town, and planned to close one of them in the summer when the US-2 was open. Within a few years, the Delft Theater chain took over operations, and the theater was listed as the Highway 2. In 1972, David Vaughan bought the drive-in and renamed it the Cinema Two, not because he added a second screen, but because his new indoor theater in town was called Cinema One. It was the last active drive-in in the upper peninsula when it closed in 2001, and now that’s what it is again. Here’s to another 50+ years of community involvement and fun.