SOUTHINGTON — In an effort to transport newer generations to the 1950s and to the joy of watching movies on a big screen under the stars, the Southington Drive-in has recreated a replica of its very first sign.
The drive-in committee unveiled the new sign — now complete with lights — to a small crowd at the venue Wednesday evening.
“We are really excited about this, this has been in the planning since day one,” said Town Councilor Michael Riccio, a drive-in committee member. “We always wanted to restore this beautiful sign here.”
Workers from Sign Pro in Plantsville started erecting the sign in June, the week the drive-in opened for its 2018 season.
The 22-foot-tall sign is a replica of the original constructed for the drive-in’s opening. Committee member David Zoni said the colors, however, were based on a second version of the sign, since the photos from 1955 were in black and white.
Zoni said they used the Southington Library’s digital news archives to find a picture of the original owners from the first opening day.
“We took this little picture and from that I was able to go on to the internet and find sites that showed us thousands of pictures of drive-ins all over the country, and the sign we had was in several places,” Zoni said.
He said one company likely created the same sign for drive-ins across the country, including venues in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The new sign uses a replica marquee to replace a billboard-style sign, which was all that remained of the original after modifications over the years. The most recent sign was a Southington Parks and Recreation sign with the town seal and messages about the shows.
“We sort of wanted to emulate what the drive-in used to be in 1955, when the drive-in first opened,” said Dawn Miceli, Town Council vice chairwoman and a committee member. “It was just one of our goals that if we could, we’d put the old sign back up.”
The town Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance to allow the size of the sign, as well as the internal lights, which are drawn from the original.
The sign is the latest improvement to the drive-in. Last year, the screen was coated with silver paint and this year the drive-in committee bought new projectors.
All improvements come at no cost to taxpayers, according to Miceli. Ticket sales, sponsorships and advertising fund drive-in operations and purchases.