As the weather warms up and states have begun to reopen and allow low risk social distancing activities, one idea from our past might be just the thing to save our future: the good ol’ drive in movie theatre. There are not too many of the old drive ins left, however we can certainly create temporary ones in empty parking lots, farms, and large fields across America. This concept embraces low health risks, social distancing, takes place outside and is way to have some fun.
Just like the drive by graduations and birthday parties, folks stay in their cars. Parking attendants direct the driver to park in a designated spot in the lot. Perhaps you can reserve your spot next to your friends so you can safely hang with them. Or perhaps your kids are all piled in, wearing their pjs so they can be transferred to bed easily when everyone gets home. Let us imagine that some of the kids spill onto the roof of their car on an air mattress, while the youngest settle into their car seats. Mom and Dad order popcorn over their cell phone and a golf cart comes by with their order. The entire family enjoys the big screen outside under the stars, the sound coming out of their car radios and no one has to fear getting sick.
It does not have to stop with movies. With so many concerts cancelled this summer, why couldn’t we have the local band up on the stage, with their images playing on the big screen and concert speakers blasting the tunes? Imagine the parking lot is full of the band’s friends, fans and folks who just want a night out. Perhaps we can offer an upgraded VIP spot leaving the one parking space next to you vacant allowing you to pull out some lawn chairs, or a table and chairs to set up a picnic or gourmet feast. Or perhaps you can order a meal on your phone and have it delivered by golf cart without ever leaving the safety and comfort of your designated spot.
The party planner in me is imagining how could we take this one step further and turn our drive in into an outdoor drive in wedding, anniversary celebration, quinceanera, sweet 16 or a bar/bat mitzvah celebration. The guests of honor are up on stage. Their images are projected up on the big screen. Their guests’ radios are tuned in to hear their vows, their speech, or their chanting of the Torah portion. Once the ceremony or speech ends, the camera shows a wide pan out of all the guests up on the big screen. Guests are seen at their lovely tables set up next to their cars where they will be served a beautiful basket of food to enjoy as the band takes the stage. Dancing by your table and vehicle but six feet from the folks next to you is highly encouraged. A golf cart comes around with another box full of dessert and fun. Guests are encouraged to participate in unison by the DJ or band much like they might in a ballroom. Guest messages are shown up on the big screen wishing the couple or honoree well wishes or chanting songs or offering champagne toasts. Soon everyone is enjoying the video that was put together showing the couple growing up and dating, or the honoree’s life, family, and close friends.
With so many galas and fundraising events cancelled this past spring, let’s rethink them. How about a game night, or a car gathering with a chef demonstration or wine tastings? Each car could pick up their own wine samples as they enter the drive in on the way to their designated spot. Or maybe we can play bingo, or a trivia game, or have guests attend in socially distanced contests.
There really are so many things one could do at the drive in. The best part is, we are not at home, we are outside around other people in our community, at a safe distance, participating together at a live event. We are also keeping the event industry alive, helping to save our economy and our mental health.