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Cabin fever? Drive-in movie theaters still an option for entertainment outside the home

Drive-in theaters packed as pandemic rages
Silver Moon Drive-In Theater
Posted at 10:57 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 23:26:11-04

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Business at the Silver Moon Drive-in theater in Lakeland is booming.

As restaurants, bars, brick and mortar movie theaters and the beach are all shut down, drive-in movie theaters -- like the Silver Moon Drive-In Theater -- are seeing a resurgence.

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“A different type of customer is honestly coming in,” Chip Sawyer, the President of Sun South Theaters, told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska. “People that may not have thought about the drive-in for a long time thinking about us. So, it’s really cool to see some new people here.”

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The Silver Moon is the only drive-in theater in Polk County, playing movies nightly since 1948.

At sunset, dozens of cars packed the parking lot to watch movies playing on two giant screens. Most people we talked with stayed inside their vehicles with the windows rolled up, and air conditioning cranked. Others set up lawn chairs for a bit of fresh air under a clear Florida sky. Sawyer said they are following CDC guidelines and making sure customers are safe.

“We are definitely honestly though a bit anxious,” Sawyer said. “We don’t know what the future holds. Been reading headlines trying to understand what we can do what we can’t do. We definitely want to stay legal and stay safe.”

Concessions stands were open selling soft drinks and popcorn. Everyone we saw keeping their distance from their neighbor.

“We feel OK here,” Dan Heskett said. Heskett drove nearly 40 miles to Lakeland from his home in Osceola County to watch Back to the Future.

“We are just trying to keep it together doing as much of our regular routine as we can trying to keep everyone’s spirits strong,” Heskett said. “Movies are an important family activity for us. We use it to spend time together, and it’s really important for us.”

The concession stand was open. People waiting in line for snacks told to wait outside and only allowed to enter once their order was ready.

The Silver Moon has movies daily starting at 8 p.m. The company operates two locations in Lakeland and another in Dade City.