By: Sandra L. Churchill
Drive-in movie nights usher in memories of meatball subs and pajama-clad kids climbing on top of the station wagon to watch films under the stars. As a family, we’ve continued the tradition—with a longer drive since drive-ins are few and far between—with our own children. We tote lawn chairs, coolers, blankets, and Frisbees (for the early fun before darkness sets in) and celebrate the sights and sounds of summer. Starry skies, cricket song, laughing kids, and the scents of snack bar hot dogs, popcorn, and ice cream transform a veritable sand lot into an outdoor party.
At the Mendon Drive-In, now owned by the Andelman Brothers (Phantom Gourmet), the experience is about sharing movies, time in the car, conversation on the rides to and from the theatre, and overall summer fun. There’s something about sitting in a lawn chair and embracing summer weather while sharing a movie with your children that bonds families together. It’s like camping—mini-style—since it’s just for an evening.
We love the fact that toddlers, school-age kids, teens, college students, and adults can share in the experience and enjoy the movies together. The per-carload rate ($25 at Mendon Drive-In) is cheaper than per-ticket costs for most theaters—even on bargain nights. The dual-feature format usually caters to little ones for the first movie and older children and adults for the second feature.
The Andelman brothers bought Mendon Drive-In last year and the pair has been busy expanding snack bar options, so the range of snacks is impressive. Nachos, burgers, pizza, fries, candy, ice cream, and veggie sticks are among the current offerings.
The theatre is clean, thanks to mini-trash bags distributed to each car at check-in, and a drive-around staff member is on-hand to help families tie their hatch back down to avoid blocking the screen from view.
Instead of the clunky speakers we used to balance in the car windows, movies are now broadcast on pre-set radio stations for the two screens. The sound is clear and balanced, though a portable radio is a good idea to bring if you intend to watch the film from outside your vehicle.
Armed with bug spray, citronella candles, flashlights, blankets and pillows, the night offers a bevy of summer memories for moms, dads, sons, and daughters. We love the fun for all ages and the drive-in experience offers something for everybody!