Hanging on to a piece of Americana | Editorial
By KEVIN ENDEJAN
Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor
July 12, 2012 · Updated 4:12 PM
Not a summer has passed without at least one trip to my hometown.
Sure, I drop by and say “hi” to the family, but I also go with the intent of visiting one of America’s endangered species — the drive-in movie theater.
I’ll continue the tradition this weekend when I head to Oak Harbor’s Blue Fox. I just hope it’s not the last time.
As one of Washington’s six remaining outdoor theaters, the establishment is facing extinction in a few months if it doesn’t come up with $80,000 to upgrade to a digital projector. All theaters are required to make the change before January 2013, or they will be unable to show new films.
The high cost presents a challenge to anyone, but especially these family-run drive-ins, the other five of which are in Port Townsend, Port Orchard, Shelton, Auburn and Colville.
For those who’ve never been to a drive-in, it’s truly an unparalleled experience — especially on the rare warm Western Washington night.
My hometown theater charges just $6.50 for adults, or $1 for kids, for, get this, two first-run films. Good luck finding a single matinee price in the greater Seattle/Bellevue area anywhere close to that.
The prices are great, but until you’ve laid in the bed of a truck in the middle of a field, wrapped in blankets with the stars shining above you, well, you’ve never really watched a movie.
I’ve sat in the fancy recliner-chair theaters with waiters. They’re nice, but they don’t compare.
Drive-ins also eliminate many of the headaches that come with traditional theaters. My personal favorite, nobody can come one minute before the movie starts and ask you to move over. If someone is being loud, you’d never know because everyone is blasting the exact same thing through their car stereos. As for the guy kicking your seat, well, that problem can be easily solved.
Drive-ins are truly a piece of Americana, but they’re on life-support. Numbers have dwindled from the thousands in the ‘50s and ‘60s to currently just 365 nationwide. A shame, but inevitable with the value of real estate.
For those who have never been, or haven’t been in years, I recommend a trip out of the city. Support these symbols of better times.
There might not be many left, but let’s hang on to the one’s we have.
Washington's remaining drive-in theaters
Auburn: Valley 6, www.valleydriveins.com
Colville: Auto Vue, no website
Oak Harbor: Blue Fox, www.bluefoxdrivein.com
Port Orchard: Rodeo Triplex, www.rodeodrivein.com
Port Townsend: Wheel In Motor Movie, www.ptwheelinmotormovie.com
Shelton: Skyline Drive-In, www.skylinedrive-in.com
Contact Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor Kevin Endejan at email@example.com or 425-391-0363, ext. 5054.