Here is an article that was in our local paper awhile ago, about the local drive-ins, if you are interested in reading it.
Movies & memories under the stars
For generations the Columbia Drive-In has meant cool entertainment on hot nights. This summer could be the finale for the county's last outdoor cinema.
By Cindy Stauffer
Lancaster New Era
Published: Mar 30, 2005 2:19 PM EST
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - This weekend may be the final summer opening for the Columbia Drive-In.
The final summer that teens line up in its blue-and-white tiled snack bar for popcorn and sodas.
The final summer a projectionist loads giant reels and aims movies onto a slightly rusting screen that has stood alongside Columbia Avenue since 1956.
The final summer that families nestle on blankets in the bed of a pickup truck to watch a movie under the stars.
The final summer of the countys only remaining drive-in theater, and the end of an era.
The drive-in has a new property owner, who has been talking with a developer, who has indicated to West Hempfield Township officials that this will be the theaters last season.
Thats what the developer is saying to us, that he would be in the position to proceed by the end of this year, said Charles Douts, West Hempfield Township manager. They have not indicated their plans. It will be some type of commercial or commercial/residential mix. This isnt the first time people have talked about the drive-ins closing. Rumors of its demise have been circulating in Columbia for almost 10 years.
But this time, it looks more likely.
Last year, Gardiner and Michael Murphy, two brothers from Columbia, bought the 17-acre tract where the drive-in stands for $637,500. Gardiner Murphy says hes not sure what will happen to the property but adds, It could be the last year, and it probably will be.
The tracts developer, Steve Hogan, did not return repeated calls for comment on his plans for the tract.
If the theater closes, it will mark the end of drive-in theaters in Lancaster County.
The Sky-Vue Drive-In was the countys first ozoner, opening on Route 30 in 1953 and closing around 1980 to make way for whats now Tanger Outlet Center. Next came the Comet Drive-In, which opened off Route 283 in 1955 and closed in 1979 to make way for a truck equipment firm. The Columbia Drive-In opened Aug. 10, 1956, billed as the countys first all-year drive-in with automatically installed car heaters for the winter months.
I would like to keep this a drive-in forever, says Tucker Mooney, the drive-ins president for the past five years.
Mooney, a Montgomery County resident who formerly operated a Bucks County drive-in, would like to buy just the seven acres the drive-in sits on, but says he has not been able to negotiate an affordable price with the Murphys.
My understanding is this is the last year, he says. Im upset about it. Everybody loves this place.
Columbia Mayor Leo Lutz was a regular at the drive-in when he was a teen, bringing his future wife there on dates during its 60s heyday. It was really neat to be able to go to the movies and sit outdoors in the summer on a lounge chair or a folding chair and pack something to drink, he says. It was a lot nicer than sitting in the house. There wasnt a lot of air conditioning back then. It was a real big young peoples social place.
Lutz remembers teens flocking to the drive-in on Memorial Day and July 4 for all-nighters, a dusk-to-dawn marathon of watching movies, flirting, gossiping and popcorn-eating.
The drive-in also has been a source of community controversy at times. In the 70s, the theater briefly showed X-rated movies, prompting local officials to post no parking signs along Route 30 and to eventually ban the showing of the films in the township.
In recent years, the theater has been a magnet for families, says Michael McBride of Columbia, who has worked at the drive-in for about 10 years and gone to movies there since he was a kid.
McBride remembers a year when the theater stayed open all the way until Christmas, so it could show Miracle on 34th Street. Thats the year it also sold Christmas trees beneath its enormous white screen. These days, the theater can attract up to 700 cars and 3,000 fans from as far away as New Jersey on a warm, summer night, Mooney says. You got mom and dad coming out with their sons and daughters, McBride says. Where are they going to go now? Its going to be the end of an era. The drive-in is a vanishing breed.