Company helps U.P.’s last drive-in theater

Courtesy photo The Upper Peninsula Film Union recently welcomed a much needed donation to their Highway 2 Community Drive-In Theater in Manistique. Semco Energy Gas Company donated a utility instrument building to protect the the drive-ins projector from the weather.

MANISTIQUE — Semco Energy Gas Company donated a utility instrument building to the Highway 2 Community Drive-In Theater in Manistique, which is operated by the Upper Peninsula Film Union. The utility instrument was recently retired after it was replaced with updated equipment. The Highway 2 Theater is the only surviving drive-in theater in the Upper Peninsula.

The drive-in theater’s projector has been kept safe by a tent in its front row since the U.P. Film Union reopened the theater back in 2016. Meant to protect the projector from various weather conditions, the tent was relatively insecure in instances of heavy rain, high winds, hail, and thunderstorms. Additionally, the many people and vehicles moving about the event space posed another risk to the drive-in theater’s projector and protective tent. It was decided that the projector needed a better guardian.

Eric Sherbinow of the U.P. Film Union stated that “…the ideal situation would be having a projector in the original projection booth located in the concession building but such a projector has a price tag of over $100,000. We are a donation financed nonprofit and it is doubtful we will ever have that kind of money. Semco’s donation will allow us to place our projectors in a truly secure environment. We had planned to build such a structure this season and the timing of this donation couldn’t be better.”

The new “projection booth” will also allow the projector to be placed higher above the ground. This will eliminate any shadows of passing cars or people from being cast upon the big screen.

The new projection booth was fully functional for the Union’s first event of the season on June 25.

Each season the Highway 2 Community Drive-In Theater hosts movie events that are free to the public thanks to sponsors who pay for the film licensing. The U.P. Film Union lets other nonprofit groups operate the concession stand at these events.

“To date, the Film Union has helped other groups raise nearly $20,000 for their respective causes. From the beginning we have worked to make improvements to our theater with the hopes that these improvements would help raise more money for these groups. SEMCO’s donation helps us with that tremendously since we will be able to place more focus on the events themselves instead of needing to protect the projector. The projector is probably the most important part of our operation. Keeping it safe is critical.” said Don Erickson, a member of the U.P. Film Union.

If you would like to learn more about the U.P. Film Union’s events or make a contribution to their work, you can find them on Facebook or at their website www.upfilmunion.org. A Facebook account is not required to view their page. U.P. Film Union can also be reached by email at upfilmunion@gmail.com.


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