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Drive-in drive!

Posted on Aug 22, 2015

The first time I went to a drive-in theatre I was 10 years old. My best friend’s parents took us to our local (small-town Manitoba) drive-in in their fake-wood-panelled station wagon. It was the mid-70s. My friend and I were snuggled in the back with blankets, pillows, and popcorn. I have no idea what movie we watched, but we had the BEST time!

My next memory of a drive-in is laying across the back window of our sedan (where the kleenex box used to sit) and falling asleep. Again, no idea what the movie was.

My only memory of watching The Shining for the first time was that I was at a drive-in theatre and it was terrifying!

When I was 30 I lived in Kamloops for 1.5 years. I was single and bored so sometimes I would put on my pjs and take myself to the Halston Connector drive-in. I would walk into the concession to buy popcorn, not caring at all if people stared – I didn’t know anybody, what did I care?! I always brought my own drink (sometimes water, sometimes beer, but only one because I hated having to pee between double features!) I’d recline the driver’s seat of my 1980 Toyota Tercel hatchback and push it all the way back so I could stretch my legs. I’d fluff my pillow, pull my blanket up, and settle in for 3 hours of escape. These are my favourite memories of Kamloops!

After I moved back to Vancouver I heard that the drive-in had closed. The news hurt my heart. Not because that drive-in was special in any way, but because the whole experience was so special to me. Sure, Vancouver had a drive-in, but it was an hour’s drive to get there – NO THANKS! The drive-in in Kamloops was 10-12 minutes away if you lived on the other end of town, and only 5 minutes from the north shore where I lived. Location, location, location!

Every time we drive through Kamloops, I point out the empty lot and the still-standing big white screen to my husband. He must get so tired of me pointing it out! I wistfully shrug, sigh, stare at the screen as we drive by. This last time we drove by it I told him “for my 50th birthday, I would love it if you rented out that space and we invited all our friends to camp out and watch drive-in movies with us.

Haaaahahahaha! He was like a deer in headlights! His mind raced with all the 27 reasons he could NOT do that: it’s too far away, the liabilities, the rental costs, the movie logistics, etc etc etc. I snickered inside. While I would LOVE to have my 50th birthday party at a drive-in, it will never happen. He’s not a magician!

Today I read an article in Kamloops This Week about Landon Muzio. Landon is as passionate about the drive-in theatre as I am, only he is a man of action whereas I am merely a dreamer. He has started a Facebook page, a Go Fund Me campaign, and the Kamloops Drive-In Project, all about raising money to get the drive-in dream to come alive. This man is my hero!

Sadly, the Halston Connector location is no longer an option (the article doesn’t say why, but I’m sure it’s been explored and the conclusion was definite!) But what about approaching the mall or Walmart or another place with a big parking lot that is empty at night? I know Calgary has a drive-in movie playing at one mall’s parking lot, and I’ve heard of towns using a big box store’s parking lot. I assume they use the location’s facilities or rent port-a-potties for the evening. Imagine the screamin’ business a food cart would make at a drive-in! A hotdog stand, a snack bar, a smoothie bar, gourmet popcorn? Heck, even a candy machine that gives you a handful of M&Ms for a quarter would make a killing there!

If by some miracle Landon Muzio manages to get a drive-in resurrected in Kamloops, I will most definitely have my 50th birthday party there. So Landon, you’ve got 13 months to get this together! Keep me posted!!!

My next post: Kamloops needs a Roller Rink!