Sunset Drive-In (PA) opens May 17

Thanks to the Erie Times-News and GoErie.com, we’ve got this fun, silly bit of video about the Sunset Drive-In of Waterford PA. And there’s even a story about the Sunset that doesn’t just rewrite the dialogue from the video, so you still need to go read it.

Sunset owners Dennis and Margaret Koper have purchased and installed the new digital projection equipment, and now they’re trying to figure it all out in time for the season opener May 17. As with all the other drive-ins that have sprung for this expense, it’s a sign that they’re in it for the long haul. The article said that Dennis “expects a 15-year return on his digital investment.”

Dennis said it was this or retirement, and he jokingly blames his wife for deciding to keep running the drive-in. Now about that new equipment. “I don’t have any idea how to work this thing right now,” he said. “But we’ll both learn in time.”

Haar’s reopens with digital projection

Line of cars waiting to get in at Haars Drive-InWe’ve got two sources for the great news that Haar’s Drive-In of Dillsburg PA is reopening this weekend with its new digital projection system. We had already written about its conversion efforts, and it’s great to see that they’re ready to go.

The York Dispatch ran an article with a photo of Haar’s workers unloading the projector crate. The article quotes owner Vickie Hardy as saying that the digital upgrade might not boost attendance. “I don’t think the format is why people come. I think they come because it’s a cheap night of family fun,” she said. That would be my guess as well. (Of the three news sources I’ve seen so far, the other two spell the owner’s name “Vicky”. But the Haar’s site matches the Dispatch’s spelling, so congrats to the Dispatch for getting it right. But I digress.)

The Patriot-News of Mechanicsburg also wrote about Haar’s reopening, and correctly points out that its technology investment is “proof positive that ‘we intend to remain here for quite a while,'” Hardy said. There’s also a cute file photo of a couple kissing at the drive-in, so go read that article too, even though it (probably?) misspelled the owner’s name.

More drive-ins in MI, PA commit to digital

Getty Drive-In marquee

photo by MichiganDriveIns, used by permission

Here are a couple more notes that support what, thankfully, looks like a growing trend. The Lehigh Valley (PA) Morning Call ran a happy note about Shankweiler’s in Orefield and Becky’s in Berlinsville, which have both switched to digital projection.

Not only is Shankweiler’s indisputably the oldest active drive-in, it appears to have been only the second drive-in ever built when it opened in April 1934, according to the book Drive-in Theaters. Becky’s isn’t quite as old, it opened 12 years later, but it’s always nice to hear of another drive-in making a successful conversion.

Over at Mlife.com is a similar story of the Getty Drive-In (Muskegon MI), except that it hasn’t quite made the transition yet. The story says that the Getty’s general manager, Kevin Sims, wasn’t sure exactly when it would happen, but it could be as early as June. “Luckily, we have a great company that backs the drive-in,” he said. For the full story, plus a photo of the film projector, go check it out!