Summer at the Drive-In | Urban Living
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Summer at the Drive-In



As summer draws to a close, check your seasonal bucket list. Did you miss a few goals? Did you take any stay-cations in our fine state? Did you see any drive-in movies? Several of you might say to yourselves, "WTF is a drive-in movie?!" Drive-ins are uniquely American creations—you pack the car full of friends/family and pull into a parking lot in front of a giant screen. Some theaters have speakers that you can put in your window. Or you can get the sound on your car radio.

The brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, the first drive-in theater opened in 1933 in Camden, N.J. Folks forked up 25 cents per car plus 25 cents per person to see a movie. Before then, people used home projectors pointed at the sides of barns and buildings or sheets hung in the backyard for outdoor viewing. Drive-ins didn't become widely popular until the invention of attachable in-car speakers in the early 1940s. By 1958, there were around 5,000 scattered across the country—the peak of their popularity. Drive-ins were great because you could take the whole family, bring your own food and drink—and smoke. At first, you couldn't see the screen over the car in front of you, but then that same Hollingshead fellow created a ramp system so cars would be at different heights. He even patented it.

Utah has six official drive-ins. The largest is the Redwood Drive-In at 3688 S. Redwood Road ( The others are the Motor-Vu in Riverdale (, the Echo in Roosevelt (, the Motor Vu Theater in Erda (, the Sunset in Vernal and the Basin in Mt. Pleasant ( Some Utah drive-ins are open only on weekends and many double as space for swap meets. Generally, there's a charge per person, but many theaters admit small children for free. It's so much cheaper than going to a Megaplex, especially since you can bring your own goodies.

I grew up going to drive-ins with my mom. She would throw my brother and me in the back seat and go see something fairly racy for the time—like Liz Taylor in the 1963 movie Cleopatra. When the R-rated part flashed on the screen, she'd tell us, "Get down on the floor!"

Make sure you try a drive-in before it gets too cool at night—it's a classic summer pastime and an excellent retro experience.