Summer movie season is on at Southington Drive-In

Summer movie season is on at Southington Drive-In

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SOUTHINGTON — From the safety of their cars, hundreds watched as the infamous great white shark stalked the seas around Amity Island for the Southington Drive-In’s season opening showing of “Jaws 2” last weekend.

“We were getting a lot of requests to open up the drive-in,” said Mike Fasulo, chairperson of the drive-in’s volunteer committee. “ … It’s a lot of fun. The best part of it is seeing people come from all over and hearing their stories.”

After missing most of the summer season last year due to limitations on outdoor gatherings, the town-owned theater switched on its projector to show “Jaws 2” on June 5 and will continue showing movies nearly every Saturday until the season closes with the Sept. 11 screening of “We Bought A Zoo.”

Though “Jaws 2” didn’t quite meet Fasulo’s hopes of seeing the theater selling out to its 400 car capacity, he believes the more family-friendly premiere of “Frozen 2” will attract a larger audience today.

“Our experience with kids' movies is much better, so we're hoping this Saturday is a full house,” he said.

Since nearly all capacity restrictions have been lifted on outdoor gatherings, the movie-going experience will be much the same for return customers. Physical education teacher Eric Korp will be returning to provide an hour of entertainment for children before the movies begin.

The only noticeable difference will be the lack of students from Southington High’s Deca club staffing the concession stand; since there’s been a limited number of kids in school, the club’s faculty didn’t feel they would be able to train enough students to operate the stand. Instead food trucks will be on hand to serve hungry patrons.

Over a dozen local non-profit and civic organizations will be returning this summer to provide volunteers to run the ticket booths and guide cars to parking spaces. The theater serves as a fundraising opportunity for the organizations, as the profits from ticket sales are divided among them at the end of the season.

The theater has raised a total of around $275,000 for the organizations it partners with in the dozen or so years since movies returned under town ownership.

“They’re grateful for the opportunity to raise some money for the organization,” he said.

While the amount of space allowed under COVID restrictions made movie showings last summer infeasible, organizers were able to work with Encore Live to host a handful of concerts throughout the season.

Shane Lockwood, director of the Plainville-Southington Regional Health District, said when the theater did begin playing movies again in September 2020, organizers were careful to abide by capacity and spacing requirements and added places where customers could wash their hands. While those restrictions are no longer in place, he said it’s still good to be cautious.

“While masks are not required, there’s nothing saying you can’t wear one,” he said. “ … Maybe space out a little bit more than you did before the pandemic. That's never a bad thing.”

That said, he believes people have earned the right to enjoy themselves this summer after abiding by the restrictions for so long.

“I think it's good that people get out. We missed a lot of activities last year,” he said. “So I think people should get out and enjoy themselves, while still remembering those other factors.”

dleithyessian@record-journal.com203-317-2317Twitter: @leith_yessian

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