Alexandria, VA – Around twilight on Saturday, August 29, 215 cars, trucks and SUVs rolled into the pre-arranged lanes of the enormous parking lot at 5001 Eisenhower Avenue, to watch “Jurassic Park.” With easy to read signs and an innovative app, the process was touchless and orderly, and for many the experience was an initiation, a rite of passage. For others, it was a blast from the distant past.
“This is my first drive-in movie ever,” exclaimed Kellie from the passenger seat while her mom, Olivia Cushman gleamed with pride for having snagged one of the coveted spots when she first read the drive-in was coming to town. “We’re having a girl’s night out!”
“We’re celebrating our four-year anniversary,” said Jordan Slade leaning back, pointing out her husband in the driver’s seat, where they were in position A, front and center.
Cars were separated by a few feet and were lined up in several rows away from the 55-foot inflatable screen. “We got the biggest one they have available,” said Allen Brooks, from Building Momentum. Some people got creative with their movie-watching style. One couple watched the movie from the back seat like they were on a date in the fifties, and whole families packed into minivans with some turning their cars around to open up the back doors and hatchbacks for maximum viewing potential.
Patrons could bring their own fare or order from visiting food trucks. Everyone stayed in their cars while volunteers delivered food using electric bicycles provided by Pedego in Old Town, and instead of a cumbersome aluminum speaker hanging from the window, the audience tuned into a secret FM radio station to hear the actors and the dinosaurs roar.
Presented by Building Momentum’s The Garden and ALX Community, the six-part movie series sold out within four days of its announcement and has a waiting list of 600. The collection of movie classics and family favorites will be shown every Saturday through October 3, with plans to add more dates. “The people on the waiting list will have the first chance to get those tickets,” says Kelly Grant from ALX Community.
Gates open at 7:15 p.m. Movies start at 8:30 p.m. The cost to enter is $30 per car per screening. All proceeds go to local charities. Masks are required when patrons are not in vehicles.
(All photos by Lucelle O’Flaherty)