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Revamped operation has survived storm, changes

New owners will have to make decision on digital projection

Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 10:27 am

The Huntington Drive-in, which was once rebuilt after a storm, is up for sale.

“Digital projection plays a part but not a primary reason,” the owners said in an email.

J.D. and Nellie Detzler took ownership of the drive-in Aug. 14, 2001, and worked hard to restore and renovate the 17-acre drive-in that was left in disrepair, spending $1,700 to repave the entrance, $1,200 to upgrade the sound system from mono to true stereo, in-car speakers and to put a new metal roof on the concession stand within the first three years.

They also installed another screen at the drive-in, 1291 Condit St. For $8 for ages 12 and older and $3 for ages 3-11, families could pile into a vehicle for a night of entertainment.

The drive-in has weathered some non-metaphorical storms. A March 31, 2005, severe wind storm knocked down two-thirds of the screen tower, but the couple rebuilt and began showing movies the following Memorial Day weekend.

The drive-in, which is closed for the season, was established May 5, 1950. However, times have changed. Movie studios are phasing out 35 mm film prints, and the switch to an eventually all-digital distribution system is pushing outdoor theaters to make the expensive change to digital projectors. And while the Detzlers say they could probably get financing for it, it’s not something they want to do at this stage of life.

They wrote in their email, “We both feel what the Drive In needs as much or more so than digital projection is younger owners.”