It’s Day 365 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took less than a half hour to drive from the Cumberland Drive-In Theatre southeast of Newville PA to Haar’s Drive-In Theatre in Dillsburg PA.
The first inkling of the drive-in was in October 1952 when the National Production Authority allocated Vance W. Haar sufficient copper to build his drive-in. At the time, he said would cover 10 acres, hold 500 cars (with a possible later expansion to 1000), cost $41,200, and open the following spring.
The next mention was a March 24, 1953 ad for the annual Clean Sweep Sale at Haar’s Auction House. It said, “Don’t miss the Grand Opening of Haar’s new drive-in theatre, Friday, May 1st”.
The Gettysburg Times of June 10 had a note that Haar’s would have its grand opening on June 18. Haar now said that the drive-in cost “about $100,000” to build. This time the projected date was accurate, as proven by a grand opening ad that day. Billboard magazine belatedly noted on August 8 that the “520-car capacity” drive-in was now open.
Vance Haar passed away in 1973, and one of his sons, Boyd Haar, died in 1986. In its annual roundups from 1991 through 1998, The Sentinel of Carlisle wrote that Haar’s was owned by George Haar, brother Elwood Haar and sister Claribel Lecrone.
In 1999, The Philadelphia Inquirer had a fun article pointing out that residents of the neighboring townhouses and apartments effectively have a free season pass to Haar’s. “And there’s that funny echo that sometimes sours the sound coming from 500 little car-mounted speakers – especially when the lot has empty spaces.” The article said Elwood ran the theater with siblings George and Claribel, and personally hand-peeled up to 1000 pounds of potatoes per week for his French fries. “You’ve got to love it to do this,” he said.
In 2003, Haar’s opener was postponed a few weeks because of problems with the septic system. A Sentinel article that spring said that Vickie Hardy, Vance’s granddaughter, was company president. According to Haar’s About Us page, the transition had taken place on March 1 that year.
In June 2009, the York Daily Record reported that there were rumors that Haar’s would close. Hardy said that the ownership group had committed to keeping the drive-in open for that year. “After that, the group plans to chat again, Hardy said.”
The Dillsburg Banner celebrated Haar’s 60th season in 2012. At that point, Elwood was still running the projector but the spokesperson was Hardy, “current owner of the drive-in with her husband, Doug, her sister, Connie Darbrow, her sister’s husband, Al, and her cousin, Sandra Haar.” Haar’s converted to digital projection that year, as I wrote that May.
In early 2016, the owners determined that the original screen could not be repaired, so they had it torn down. Soon after was a bit of excitement when the debris caught fire, but that didn’t stop a new screen from going up. “We are looking forward to many years of showing fabulous movies under the stars,” Hardy told Lancaster Online.
The embedded video of the day is from WPMT, Harrisburg’s News Leader, celebrating the new screen that went up in July 2016.
Miles Today / Total: 22 / 40160 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 200
Nearby Restaurant: Pakha’s Thai House was not the kind of restaurant I was expecting to find in Dillsburg. It’s thoroughly Thai from its cuisine to its decor. For dinner, I enjoyed the cinnamon chicken with a side of seafood soup. All of these spices should help keep me healthy for the new year.
Where I Virtually Stayed: If you want to stay in Dillsburg, you’re going to need to stay at the Rodeway Inn. It’s humble, it’s not that bad, and it’s quite inexpensive. My room had a couple of double beds and all the modern amenities. There was coffee at check-in, coffee in the morning, and plenty of cash left in my pocket for breakfast at Wolfe’s Diner.
Only in Dillsburg: Every* New Year’s Eve in Dillsburg, hundreds gather downtown to experience the world-famous Pickle Drop. At midnight, a six-foot-tall pickle drops from the local fire department’s ladder truck into a pickle barrel and fireworks go off. Prior to the drop, they have live entertainment, children’s activities, themed refreshments like pickle soup and fried pickles, and ice sculpting on the square. *-Except this year because of forecast single-digit temperatures outside and no heat in Dillsburg Elementary School where some of the events are held.
Next stop: 2018.