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Drive-in movies return to delight of many

July 19, 2003|by TARA REILLY

The Krull family sat in front of their vehicle Friday evening, talking and snacking on funnel cake while waiting for the sun to set.

The Hagerstown family of four was among the first people to arrive at the grand opening of the Mason-Dixon Drive-In at the Mason-Dixon Dragway on U.S. 40 east of Hagerstown.

Gayle Krull said she was excited to hear a drive-in was opening in the Hagerstown area.

"It's nice to be able to do things as a family," she said. "There's not many family-related activities in this area."


The opening featured "The Wizard of Oz" followed by "Grease."

Gayle Krull's 3-year-old son, Dylan, said "The Wizard of Oz" was his favorite movie. Asked why, he responded with a smile, " 'Cause I like it."

Drive-in owner Alan Ackerman and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Davis, both of American Family Entertainment, said families are their target audience.

"The focus of the drive-in is the family atmosphere," Ackerman said. "A lot of times families don't do things together, because there's not an atmosphere to do things as a family."

Davis said those in attendance showed enthusiasm toward the opening, and there were about 20 cars lined up by 6:30 p.m.

She said the drive-in is a place where adults can bring their young children and enjoy an evening together.

"Don't get a baby-sitter; just bring them along," Davis said. "They can talk and run and play, and by the second feature they'll be asleep in the back seat."

By 8:30 p.m., a half-hour before showtime, there were about 60 cars in attendance with about 150 adults. Ackerman said the number of cars climbed to 78 by 9 p.m.

While the drive-in can fit about 300 cars, Ackerman said he was pleased with the number of people who turned out, especially since the theater didn't advertise its opening night.

He said he wanted a "soft opening" so the drive-in crew could stage an official showing to get an idea of what does or doesn't need to be improved before attendance picks up in the coming weeks.

Davis said the movies are shown on DVDs and projected onto an inflatable screen that is 58 feet wide and 34 feett high. The audio can be heard through FM radio station 87.9 in the cars or on portable radios.

Movies will be shown on Friday and Sunday nights, usually a double-header for $10 per carload.

Ackerman said the digital picture quality is better than film, and different movies will be shown every night.

The Mason-Dixon Drive-In will show "Days of Thunder" and "Top Gun" Sunday, beginning about 9 or 9:30 p.m.

Nicole Rowland, who attended opening night with some friends and her 5-year-old son, Brandon Clark, said the drive-in was something different for her son to experience.

Rowland said she was thrilled to hear "The Wizard of Oz" and "Grease" would be shown, because they are her two favorite movies.

"You don't want to come down to that second aisle when "Grease" is on, because I'll be singing every single song," she said.

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