When the sun goes down, the lights can still go up at the Moonlite Drive-In theater this summer.
This year may not have been the type of opening season Eric Symeon anticipated when he bought and renovated the shuttered drive-in last year, but despite missing out on a March opening, the theater is thriving as a safe entertainment option during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of families like coming out,” he said. “It’s a chance to be together and go out.”
The drive-in reopened at the end of May after holding a trial run in October 2019. The drive-in had been closed since 1988 until Symeon took his chance to buy it.
“It was something I had always wanted to do,” he said.
With no new releases hitting theaters, Symeon has shown popular classic movies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights since May. The most popular ones so far have been Beetlejuice, Gremlins, Jaws and Batman, he said.
In order to maintain and follow social distancing guidelines, Symeon said all cars are parked six feet apart from one another in front of the drive-in’s screen. Customers must also wear a mask when going to the concession stand or restroom.
Symeon said customers have followed the guidelines willingly, since many of them were asking and hoping for the drive-in to open during the beginning of the state’s lockdown.
“They were asking us … for something to do,” he said.
While some people remain “hesitant,” to come out, Symeon said the drive-in has seen at least 50% of its 120 car capacity filled on most nights.
Symeon has been able to use the space for more than movies, something he said he did not anticipate happening in their first full season. They have shown the Drive-In Concert series of Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton so far, and hosted a classic movie night fundraiser with the Wyoming Area Kiwanis Club.
“They had a great turnout,” he said. “They’re scheduling another for the end of August.”
The drive-in has also begun hosting flea markets on Saturday mornings. Symeon hopes to see more vendors available as the markets continue. Anyone who would like to sell at the market simply needs to show up to the drive-in any Saturday at 7 a.m. for check-in.
To keep up with showtimes, movies and events, Symeon encouraged following the Moonlite Drive-In LLC Facebook page.
“Just watch Facebook or call the theater,” he said.