PIPESTEM — For those who want to see a movie on the big screen and maybe have a new experience as well, the iconic Pipestem Drive-In Theater will open for the season starting Memorial Day weekend.
Indoor theaters remain closed but Gov. Jim Justice included drive-in theaters in his Week 3 plan to reopen state businesses.
Pipestem Drive-in, located on Rt. 20 just south of Pipestem State Park, first opened in 1972 and is one of the few remaining drive-ins in the state.
On Friday night, the theater will open its gates to give area residents the first opportunity to see a movie on a big screen since Justice’s “stay at home” order was issued more than two months ago.
The theater has posted that gates will open at 7 p.m. each night and the movies start at dusk.
The season will kick off Friday night with a guest DJ, Super Fun by Buck Wild, and the theater’s well-known Sunday flea market will return, starting at 6 a.m., with social distancing in place.
Since people sit in their cars or trucks, social distancing is built in with watching the movies.
But moviegoers must follow the guidelines when visiting concessions and restrooms.
For many local residents, Pipestem Drive-in is a piece of history that is still cherished.
“From my earliest days as a kid, I can remember going to the drive-in and enjoying time of fellowship with friends and family,” said Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett. “Now that we are in a new social distancing world, I can think of no better way to enjoy a movie than under the great outdoors.”
Puckett said it’s just a matter of following guidelines, being safe, and having a good time.
“There are many different protocols that drive-ins are following all over the country,” he said. “As long as we continually work for social distancing and have arrangements to serve the public in a healthy way, I think it’s a great idea.”
Jamie Null, executive director of the Mercer County Visitors and Convention Bureau, said it also provides people who visit Pipestem Sate Park an opportunity to experience a drive-in theater, many of whom may never have had the chance to do.
“Even before the pandemic, the Pipestem Drive-in has always been a destination for many people who want the experience,” she said, adding that is also brings back a sense of nostalgia to those, like Puckett, who grew up coming to the drive-in.
Null said it also offers a break from staying at home, giving residents a chance to enjoy a movie on the big screen and with their families.
“I hope it satisfies the need to be entertained and also bring in some revenue to the theater,” she said.
The double feature this week is for the entire family: “Trolls World Tour” and “Dolittle,” both rate PG.
Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children.
Sunday night is family night, with a carload for $14.
The theater said that tickets and concession accepts cash only.
— Contact Charles Boothe at email@example.com