A large part of the magic of the movies is the shared experience of the theater: sitting in the darkness, surrounded by others interested in the same story, everyone enveloped and carried away to another world by the immensity of the big screen. Despite how large televisions grow, and how impressive home “surround sound” has become, there’s still something unique about going out to the movies.
While traditional movie theaters show no immediate signs of disappearing, one communal theater experience is very much in danger of extinction — the Drive-In. Drive-In theaters were an important part of the car culture that shaped the mid-20th century. In Maine, as elsewhere, they dotted and altered the landscape, impacted community life, and contributed to the tourism industry — much like the many small motels, tourist cabins, and drive-in restaurants that still operate today.
The Saco Drive-In is one of at least five Drive-Ins fighting to stay alive in Maine. It opened in 1939 and is the second oldest operating drive-in in the country. (Others are in Westbrook, Bridgton, Madawaska, and Skowhegan.) To remain functional in the industry, drive-ins must convert to digital projection–an extremely costly venture.
Enter the Honda Motor Company, which is running a nationwide contest called Project Drive-In to help a handful of theaters pay for conversion. The five theaters that get the most votes from the public will get their needs met.
Saco needs your support! Visit Project Drive-In to learn more and vote. And then, before summer’s over, pack some snacks and head to the drive-in. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.