Video: Ceres CA Reopens

Here’s some good news, sort of. The Ceres (CA) Drive-In, which had closed in 2008, will reopen soon thanks to the drive-in demand surge from the pandemic.

The Modesto Bee reported that Ripon resident Mark Stotzer has leased the old Ceres site, which still has one of its two old screens standing. “I had been looking at alternate sites to put something together,” the promoter told the Bee, “and then remembered there used to be a drive-in in Ceres.”

The old drive-in site has a lot of advantages over most of the pop-ups that have sprouted this year. It still has ramps, probably there when it opened in 1948. Its 100-foot screen in 40 feet off the ground, allowing more cars to see it clearly. And then there’s the name, which still resonates with some of the locals.

Although this is good news, I still feel awkward talking about it. Will this reborn Ceres remain in operation in a post-Covid world? (Will there be a post-Covid world?) For now, I’ll hold off on adding it to the Carload active drive-in list, but I always appreciate the opportunity to share a bit of video and hope with you. Enjoy!

Video: Tiffin gets a new owner

Michael Cole of Findlay OH has purchased the venerable Tiffin Drive-In (the Tiffin OH drive-in known for a few years as the Field of Dreams) and plans lots of renovations. The news comes to us via WTOL, Toledo’s News Leader.

Cole said his first order of business will be to demolish the screen tower that has stood since the drive-in opened in 1949. “Repairing it was really out of the question,” he said, and although I hate to see something that old taken down, I suppose it’s smart to be proactive instead of waiting for it to fail. Cole plans to replace it with a new screen and tower, then do the same to the second screen added by Rod and Donna Saunders just a few years ago. For a longer history of the Tiffin / Field of Dreams, check out my virtual visit there three years ago.

With all the is-it-open and temporary-popup news these days, it’s nice to be able to share something real with you this time. And I’m always on the lookout for video that captures the drive-in experience. I hope you enjoy it!

Carload in the News

Bombay Beach "Drive-In," an art installation of junk cars facing a white tractor-trailer "screen"
Here’s another example of a non-drive-in. In Bombay Beach CA, there’s a clever life-size piece of art of junk cars facing a white tractor-trailer as a screen, with a Bombay Beach Drive-In sign. But even if they showed movies on that screen while patrons sat in the junk cars, it wouldn’t be a drive-in, because nobody drives in. Photo by DesignClass on Unsplash

This is getting meta. A short time after I wrote a post about not writing posts, Carload showed up in an article about drive-ins. That article mentioned the post about not writing posts, and now I’m adding a post about the article.

Anyway, this was a very nice article about the present and future of drive-ins, written by Joseph Williams for S&P Global Market Intelligence. That’s one of those outlets that informs investors and business folks about trends and shifting winds and those next big opportunities. I suspect that the article’s first paragraphs, mostly about me doing things like spiking a speaker to the gravel in reaction to The Gong Show Movie, were pop-culture sweetening to lure readers into the back-loaded nutritious market discussion.

Williams also touched on the question of how many active drive-ins there are in the US today, really. Do flat parking lots with pop-up screens count? John Vincent Jr., president of the United Drive-In Theatre Owners’ Association, probably doesn’t think so. “Nothing beats a movie at a real drive-in that has proper ramps and has the huge screen,” he told WIlliams.

I addressed this a long time ago. If the screen stays in one place, it doesn’t matter how puffy it is. If people in cars can drive up, park, and watch a movie, ramps aren’t important. That’s the way I see it, though I can understand Vincent thinking that all drive-ins should look like his dues-paying members’ drive-ins.

Anyway, since this post is supposed to be about Carload in the news, here’s one more article to read. In late June, while I was busy not writing posts, Smithsonian magazine ran an article about the 2020 summer of drive-ins, and Carload showed up again in the second paragraph. I wish they’d have told me that they were going to profile the Kanopolis; they could have used my photo.