Page 17 - S35.Summer 2019
P. 17

 by Dawn A. Miceli
The community-owned and volunteer-operated Southington Drive-In is celebrating its 10th season with expectations for the venue having far exceed- ed the hopes of those whose vision brought movies back to the big screen.
Since reopening the drive-in to the public in 2010, the Southington Drive-In Committee, which is made up of volunteers Mike Fasulo, Dawn Miceli, Mike Riccio and Dave Zoni, has distributed more than $200,000 to local civic and non-profit organi- zations. The committee further estimates that it has shown 150 movies and welcomed tens of thousands of viewers to the 38-acre site on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike.
The Southington Drive-In is one of three remain- ing drive-ins in the state. Nationwide it has garnered attention for its unique business practice. No longer a for-profit facility, the drive-in is owned by the town of Southington and operated by volunteers each week. Host groups man the venue by selling tickets, helping park cars and other duties.
Movies are shown each Saturday from the be- ginning of June through Labor Day weekend. The committee also hosts an annual Halloween Festival that starts with family activities during the day and culminates with trunk-or-treating throughout the parking lot and the screening of two movies.
Each year the Drive-In Committee strives to add something new – such as the weekly preshow vis- its by Southington physical education teacher Eric Korp. Whereas most drive-ins feature a playscape on site to occupy children in the run-up time to the movie, the Southington Drive-In boasts Korp and his fun family activities that take place in the multi- purpose field.
New this year is also theatre manager John Adams who joined the ranks after the departure of longtime manager Ron Newman. Newman was among the original committee members who helped bring the screening of movies to fruition and also established the drive-in’s website.
Last year the committee also worked with local sign company Sign Pro and its owner, Pete Rappoc- cio, to design and create a replica of the drive-in’s original 1950s roadside sign replete with blinking lights. The 22-foot-tall sign is a copy of the original constructed for the drive-in’s opening in 1954.
After operating as a for-profit business for near- ly half a century, the Southington Drive-In closed in 2002. Two years later, Southington residents voted to purchase the property to expand adjacent Rec- reation Park. Of the two original screens on site, community leaders at the time had the foresight to keep one screen intact for future use. Additionally, a pavilion was built on the property.
During the preshow hours each week, drive- in attendees hang out under the pavilion, which is equipped with surround sound and picnic tables, and visit the snack bar that is set up in the facility’s cater- ing kitchen. Operated by Southington High School’s DECA Club, students have dubbed the venue “Reel Good Snacks” and serve milk shakes, popcorn and other goodies. Food trucks B&M Burgers and Nana’s Ice Cream Truck are also on site each week.
The 2019 movie lineup features both newer mov- ies and classics. Southington residents pay $12 a carload while non-residents pay $18 a carload. Pa- trons are reminded that even when access to ve- hicles is closed due to a full lot, walk-ins at $2 each are always welcome to bring their own chairs or sit under the pavilion and enjoy “reel” entertainment under the stars.
Southington Drive-In
Season 10:

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