Northfield Drive-In owner vows make digital transition in Hinsdale
So when more than 200 cars pulled into the drive-in Saturday night for a triple feature and 65th anniversary celebration of the drive-in, Mitchell told the crowd during the intermission between “Smurfs 2” and “The Wolverine” that their show of support has spurred him on to continue.
“You guys helped us make the decision by coming,” he said, asking patrons to stay tuned for upcoming campaigns to fund the $100,000 to $150,000 conversion project.
Shakour of Keene comes from a family of drive-in theater owners - his parents purchased the Keene Drive-In a few months before he was born.
Though the Northfield Drive-In sits partially in Northfield, Mass., it is technically in Hinsdale because of the location of the screen and projector, Shakour said Saturday.
Before the show started, Ben and Kerri Briggs of Northfield, Mass., were settling in for a night at the drive-in on a blanket, with their two children, Abby and Eric, and their dog, Diamond.
“I think that would be sad,” Ben Briggs said. “Hope they find the means to do it.”
They made the hour and 15 minute drive to The Northfield after reading about the anniversary and the possibility of it closing in their local paper.
“It’s exciting. I’ve never seen big projectors, the 35-milimeter, in operation before. … I think it’s really cool and nostalgic that they have film. And it’s sad to see the old stuff is leaving because it’s definitely part of the whole drive-in thing.”
“This is his last chance to see this,” his dad Jeff Wyand said.
Despite the transition to digital next year, father and son said they plan to return a few times each summer now for the unique drive-in experience.
“It’s nice you get the freedom to walk around. You get to be in the comfort of your own vehicle.”
“Beautiful night too, you couldn’t ask for anything better,” Jeff Wyand said.
He already has one at home and said if he doesn’t take them they are likely to be scrapped, since there is no interest in the technology right now. He plans to hold onto them untill they become historically interesting and museums want to display them.
Aside from a few years serving in the Air Force, he has been a projectionist, working all over the country. So the transition to digital has pushed him into retirement, he said.
Johnson grew up going to the Northfield and the new digital format will not keep Johnson and Bader away, they said.
“I’ve got to come to a drive-in theater and watch movies somehow. Just because I’m not working here, I still have to go to the drive-in,” he said.