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National Drive-In Movie Day (June 6)

Check out the weird holiday National Drive-In Movie Day on June 6. Learn about the history of drive-in movies & get ideas on how to celebrate.

One weird holiday on June 6 is National Drive-In Movie Day. Check out the other weird June holidays!

In an era dominated by multiplex theaters and streaming services, where one can watch the latest blockbuster from the comfort of their living room, it’s easy to forget the charm and nostalgia associated with drive-in movies.

National Drive-In Movie Day, celebrated on June 6th, invites us to step back in time and relive a bygone era of entertainment under the open sky. This annual celebration pays homage to the drive-in theater, an iconic American invention that once held a special place in the hearts of moviegoers across the nation.

When is National Drive-In Movie Day?

National Drive-In Movie Day takes place each year on June 6th, in order to to commemorate the opening of the first drive-in theater by Richard Hollingshead in Camden, New Jersey, on June 6, 1933.

Who Invented National Drive-In Movie Day?

There isn’t a specific individual or organization credited with creating National Drive-In Movie Day, but it is celebrated by drive-in enthusiasts, cinema historians, and movie fans who appreciate the nostalgia and unique experience of drive-in theaters. The day serves as a reminder of the golden era of drive-ins and their role in American pop culture.

The Birth of the Drive-In Theater

Before we delve into the celebration of National Drive-In Movie Day, let’s embark on a journey back in time to explore the birth of the drive-in theater. The concept of outdoor cinema can be traced back to the early 20th century when entrepreneurs experimented with various forms of open-air movie presentations.

The credit for the first official drive-in theater goes to Richard Hollingshead Jr., a keen inventor from Camden, New Jersey. In 1933, Hollingshead set up a makeshift outdoor theater in his backyard, using a projector, a white bedsheet, and a radio for sound. The idea was to create a more comfortable and accessible movie-watching experience, particularly for families.

Hollingshead was granted a patent for his drive-in theater concept in 1933. The following year, he opened the first public drive-in theater, known as Park-In Theaters, in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey. This pioneering venture charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, making it an affordable option for families during the Great Depression.

The concept quickly gained popularity, and drive-in theaters began popping up across the United States. By the late 1940s and early 1950s, they were in their heyday, with thousands of drive-ins catering to moviegoers.

The Golden Age of Drive-Ins

The period from the 1950s through the 1960s is often considered the golden age of drive-in theaters. During this time, drive-ins were not merely places to watch movies; they became cultural icons and social hubs for communities. Here’s a closer look at what made this era so special:

  1. Car Culture: The post-war era saw the rise of the car culture in America, and drive-in theaters were perfectly aligned with this trend. Families could load up their cars with blankets and snacks, making it a comfortable and convenient outing.
  2. Double Features and Genre Nights: Drive-ins often featured double features, allowing moviegoers to watch two films for the price of one. They also had themed nights, such as sci-fi or horror movie marathons, catering to diverse tastes.
  3. Playgrounds and Concession Stands: Many drive-ins featured playgrounds for children and concession stands offering a variety of snacks, from popcorn and hot dogs to candy and soda. These added amenities made the experience even more enjoyable.
  4. Romantic Getaways: Drive-ins also served as popular spots for couples on romantic dates. The privacy of a car and the starlit sky overhead created a unique atmosphere for lovebirds.

The Decline and Revival of Drive-Ins

Despite their immense popularity, drive-in theaters faced challenges that led to a decline in their numbers starting in the late 1960s. These challenges included rising land costs, changes in zoning regulations, and competition from indoor multiplex theaters. By the 1980s, many drive-ins had closed their gates.

However, the drive-in theater has not vanished entirely. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in this unique form of cinema. National Drive-In Movie Day celebrates not only the history and nostalgia associated with drive-ins but also the drive-ins that continue to operate across the country.

How to Celebrate National Drive-In Movie Day

National Drive-In Movie Day offers a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the spirit of outdoor cinema and relive the magic of drive-in theaters. Here are some delightful ways to commemorate this special day:

  1. Visit a Drive-In Theater: Check local listings to see if there’s a drive-in theater near you. Gather your friends or family (and if you have kids, use these tips for family fun at the drive in), pack your car with comfy blankets and your favorite movie snacks like Coconut Nutella Popcorn, and enjoy a classic or contemporary film under the stars.
  2. Host a Backyard Screening: If you don’t have a drive-in nearby, you can recreate the experience in your backyard. Invest in a portable projector and a large outdoor screen or simply use a white bedsheet. Invite friends and family for a cozy movie night in your own outdoor theater with some delicious movie theater popcorn.
  3. Watch Drive-In Classics: Celebrate the day by watching some iconic films that capture the essence of the drive-in era. Classics like “Grease,” “American Graffiti,” or “The Outsiders” are perfect choices. Here are some ways to get free movie tickets to watch the classics.
  4. Drive Down Memory Lane: If you have cherished memories of visiting drive-ins in your youth, take some time to reminisce. Share stories and photos from those outings with loved ones.
  5. Create a Drive-In-Inspired Menu: Prepare a menu inspired by classic drive-in fare. Think hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, and soda. Don’t forget to include some nostalgic candy favorites.
  6. Share the Experience: Share your National Drive-In Movie Day experience on social media using the hashtag #DriveInMovieDay. Encourage friends and family to join in the celebration.

Preserving the Legacy of Drive-In Theaters

While National Drive-In Movie Day offers an opportunity to celebrate the past, it’s also a reminder of the importance of preserving the legacy of drive-in theaters. These unique venues hold a special place in American culture, and efforts to protect and support them continue.

Across the United States, passionate individuals and organizations work tirelessly to keep drive-in theaters alive and relevant in the digital age. Whether through fundraising initiatives, retro-themed events, or creative programming, these efforts contribute to the longevity of drive-ins. For exmple, San Diego has several drive-ins throughout the city!

National Drive-In Movie Day serves as a reminder that even in a rapidly changing entertainment landscape, there’s a timeless appeal to watching a film under the starry sky, surrounded by the comfort of your own vehicle. It’s a celebration of nostalgia, community, and the enduring magic of the drive-in theater experience.

National Drive-In Movie Day invites us to take a trip down memory lane and celebrate the iconic American invention that once brought families, friends, and couples together under the open sky to enjoy the magic of cinema. While the golden age of drive-ins may have passed, the spirit and nostalgia associated with these outdoor theaters live on.

Whether you’re fortunate enough to have a local drive-in still in operation or you decide to create your own outdoor cinema in your backyard, National Drive-In Movie Day is a reminder that some traditions are worth preserving. So, load up your car with blankets and snacks, gather your loved ones, and relive the magic of drive-in movies under the stars on June 6th and beyond.

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