New life for an old drive-in

Courtesy photo A full house waits for a movie to start at a recent special event at Manistique’s drive-in theater. Although it was closed long ago, the drive-in is periodically opened for special movie events.

MANISTIQUE — Manistique is keeping its drive-in theater alive. Although the drive-in closed long ago, it is periodically opened for special events for the community.

Schoolcraft Tourism and Commerce (STC) recently hosted a drive-in movie event there.

The STC has hosted six movie events since the summer of 2016 at the long shuttered drive in theater across the highway from the Schoolcraft County Airport.

April and Jason Collins own the property on U.S. 2 and have allowed Don Erickson and Eric Sherbinow of the U.P. Film Union to produce movie events that bring back the bygone days of the drive in theater. The events typically feature a blockbuster movie from the not too distant past followed by a campy, unknown “B feature” as was the norm during the heyday of the drive-in.

Drive in theater screens were once a common sight across the United States. At one time there were over 4,000 of these screens dotting the landscape of the nation. The advent of home video in the late ’70s and early 80s brought about the rapid demise of the drive-in theater. Today there are fewer than 400 drive-ins left.

While the Manistique drive in is officially among those listed in the permanently closed column of websites that keep track of such things, the STC manages to occasionally breathe some life back into the only outdoor movie screen left in the Upper Peninsula.

Saturday, July 14, will be the next time the drive-in comes back to life — adding one more exciting event to Folk Fest weekend. The drive-in events are family-friendly and free of charge.

Movie licensing for a public showing is expensive, but thanks to local businesses and organizations who provide sponsorship, the STC and the Film Union are able to put these events on. Past sponsors include: Limestone Federal Credit Union, Manistique Hockey Association, Wheaty’s Pub, Jack Pine Lodge, Big Spring Inn, Grover Real Estate, The Mustard Seed, Savings Insurance Agency, Superior State Agency and Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital.

The July 14 drive in event is being sponsored by Putvin Healthmart Pharmacy in Manistique.

STC drive-in events feature concessions operated by local non-profit organizations with all proceeds going to that organization. Each of these concession operators serves its choice of beverages and snacks and they set their own prices. Items that can usually be found at the concession stand include assorted soft drinks (with hot chocolate at cooler times) theater-size candy, hot dogs, pizza, and fresh popped theater style popcorn.

St Francis de Sales School will be operating the concession stand for the upcoming event.

The show starts at dusk (usually a half hour after sunset). Moviegoers sometimes arrive as early as five or six o’clock, but gates officially open at 8 p.m.. Be sure to bring items that will ensure your comfort such as lawnchairs, blankets, warm clothes (it gets chilly after sundown), sunscreen and insect repellent.

While fun activities of all kinds are encouraged, fireworks, cooking grills and other sources of open flame are prohibited for safety’s sake.


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