Great news! After sitting idle for 30 years, the Moonlite Drive-In in West Wyoming PA has reopened. Even better is that we have video of the event courtesy of WNEP, Scranton’s News Leader.
Owner Eric Symeon bought the place in early 2017 and spent two years working to clear out the effects of decades of neglect. He told the nearby Times Leader, “There was only two of us working on it, clearing the land, doing all new sewers, electric.” WNEP added the detail that over 200 trees were removed to make room for the restored parking ramps.
If you want to read more about the process, Carload ran stories on Symeon’s work as he applied to reopen the Moonlite and when he bought the drive-in’s digital projector from the freshly closed Cascade Drive-In of West Chicago IL earlier this year. Then sit back, watch the video, and rejoice that another drive-in has rejoined the land of the living.
The restored screen at the Moonlite Drive-In from a July 2018 photo on its Facebook page
After percolating for a couple of years, the Moonlite Drive-In might be ready to turn the lights back on in West Wyoming PA this June. According to The Citizens’ Voice, owner Eric Symeon bought a digital projector from the recently closed Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago IL.
Symeon has been working on this project since early 2017, which I wrote about back then. Last summer, he restored the screen by replacing missing panels and painting it. The Voice article said he’s currently working on the electrical system and fixing the concession stand. And if he’s put down the cash for the projector, that makes his announced date of June sound even more likely.
The Moonlite first opened around 1951, and for almost all of its first life it was listed as being owned by James Rizzo. Some early directories showed it starting with just 100 cars, then growing to 350 or 400, so Rizzo might have added rows to the lot. The Voice article said that the Moonlite has been closed for 32 years, making 1987 the end until now.
It’s always a shame when a perfectly good drive-in dies, but there’s a little hope salvaged when its parts can help revive or expand another drive-in. I hope there’s a happy ending here later this year.
The oldest active drive-in theater, probably the second commercial drive-in ever, is for sale. Owners Paul and Susan Geissinger say the asking price for Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theatre is $1.2 million. The Orefield PA landmark is in great shape by all accounts, but the Geissingers want to retire.
I was virtually there less than a month ago during the final week of my 2017 Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey, so its history is fresh on my mind. You can read more in that post, but the most relevant part is that the Geissingers bought the place around 1984 and have been running it ever since.
The Morning Call of Allentown wrote that the couple “actually put the property up for sale in 2015, but it was relisted last week after their real estate agent joined a new company, Paul Geissinger said Wednesday.” They want to clear enough to retire comfortably, and although they’d prefer that the drive-in would stay open, they’ll sell to the highest bidder. The current plan is for a normal operating season in 2018. I’ve embedded a YouTube video of an interview with Paul Geissinger posted just a few months ago.
The Morning Call wrote, “The Geissingers have received a few offers, Paul said, but not at the price he was looking for.” Whenever I read about any real estate that has taken longer to move than the sellers wanted, I hear the voice of the old radio financial advisor Bruce Williams in my head. Assuming that you have sufficiently publicized your listing, he would say, the market is telling you that your price is too high. You may think that you need to get X dollars from the sale, or insist that you’ve invested Y dollars into the property, but none of that matters to the buyer. Regardless of other factors, anything is worth only what a customer is willing and able to pay for it. I hope that all drive-in owners with current listings and future sales take that to heart so these great institutions can stay in operation.