drive-in theaters

Friday Night Drive-In Movie Making Comeback During Coronavirus

With many entertainment options still shuttered, more drive-ins are expected to restart their projectors soon.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

When was the last time you spent Friday night at a drive-in?

With movie theaters closed during the pandemic, more and more people are taking their cars to the movies.

Van Buren Drive-In in Riverside has been a Southern California tradition for five decades and spent at least the last five weeks closed.

At reopening night Friday, cars  stretched dozens deep. Masks were not required in your car, but social distancing from others is. The instructions are simple: Tune your radio station; stay two spaces away from each other; and have a good night.

Regulars like Irvinn Contreras say they come to the drive-in for the nostalgia.

"Something that was, that now is, and its still continuing," Contreras said.

With traditional movie theaters closed and their return uncertain due to the coronavirus, this SoCal tradition is being reintroduced to a new generation.

"I thought it was going to be like you sat in your car and just watched the movie," 10-year-old Harlow Ambrozic said. "I didn’t think you’d be able to sit outside and hang out."

"You only see it on TV nowadays," August Ambrozic, from Lake Arrowhead, said. "You never get to experience the parking lot...this is their first time, so really stoked that they get to experience it. Obviously, in the circumstances that we’re in, it’s even better."

You may have noticed you’re spending less time in your car going to and from places. But as evidence at the Friday night drive-in, your car has become the destination, in many ways, during the coronavirus outbreak.

Drive-in church for Easter Sunday and curbside pick ups for restaurants and retail are some more examples of a different kind of car culture emerging.

"COVID style!" Kimberly Monnig, a drive-in regular, exclaimed.

With many entertainment options still shuttered, more drive-ins are expected to restart their projectors soon.

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