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A Favorite Pastime Still Thrives – The Garden Drive In


Driving past, you catch a glimpse of a man clad in a dazzling ice-skating outfit hoisting another man into the air. Your gaze shifts, and you witness a group of middle-aged men suiting up in leather biker wear. These scenes would be awkward and confusing in any other setting, but they are rather tame compared to other images witnessed while passing by the Garden Drive-In on Route 11 in Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania.

The drive-in has always been as large a part of American pastime as, it seems, baseball or mini-golf. Popularized and romantacized in early ’70s films such as American Graffiti and Grease, attending the drive-in with a group of friends became the most down-to-earth American way to see a film. Surprisingly, over 30 years later, the drive-in is still a trendy hangout for all ages.

One day after the opening, Northwest senior Todd Belles attended the Garden Drive- In with his friends, “It was good,” said Belles. “It was cold, but good. The movie was really funny. We snuck some friends in the trunk of the car, but keep that on the down low,” confessed the senior with a laugh. “Seriously, don’t put that in your article.”

Belles, along with his friends, participated in the age-old tradition of hiding friends in extra car space to lower the cost of an already cheap admission fee. Although this has been looked down upon and may result in rejection from the drive-in, most students agree that it is worth the risk once in a while.

“I never do it, and I don’t agree with it, but it adds some excitement to the trip,” said Michael Buerger, senior. “It’s like, you might get caught, and you might not. And if you don’t, it costs less. If you do, you just have someone else drive while you hide. It’s fun.”

As aforementioned, the goal of sneaking in friends is mainly to make going to the drive-in a cheaper fair, but the ticket price is hardly worth arguing. At an already cheap admission price of $6 per person to view two movies, which trumps the normal prices of most theaters by $1.50 (not including matinees) for just one film, the Garden Drive-In offers an inexpensive way for a joyful outing. Needless to say, this economical offering is the main attraction for most of the crowd drawn to the drive-in.

Obviously though, there are negative aspects to a seemingly perfect pastime. As Belles mentioned earlier, the elements do play a large part in the enjoyment of an evening at the Garden. Northwest senior Ryan Pearson recalled his experience at the drive-in.

“The fog ruined the entire evening. The one time, they had to pause the movie for a while until the fog cleared, but it never did. Also, it has rained and gotten very chilly,” said Pearson. “It’s fun nce in a while, but you either have to sit on the ground or in a car, which can get rather uncomfortable.”

Included in a poor elements is the ethics of the drive-in. A noticeable marketing ploy made by Garden is to play a children’s film on one screen, while showing an adult-oriented R-rated film on the opposite screen. This is done in order to attract separate demographics rather than just one crowd. “Think if a young child was watching an animated kid’s movie and happened to turn around to see a heated,graphic sex scene, or gruesome image from a horror movie on the other screen,” said Town Hill local Annie Groff. “I can’t say if it is a big problem, but it’s more than likely it has happened and caused some difficulty among parents and children. It just seems wrong to me to expose kids to that while they are enjoying a more innocent time.”

Despite these many dilemmas, though, the Garden Drive- In still manages to draw a decent crowd of all ages. As long as there are films to show and people to go see them, the drive-in will remain a beloved pastime of American history.

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