This weekend the big screen of the Sussex Drive-in will come alive as its 42nd outdoor movie season begins. The outdoor cinema has survived the test of time, and continues to be so popular that manager Phyllis Brown says the phone doesn't stop ringing from people anxious about yet another season.
Despite the decades introducing home movies and nearby theatres enticing patrons with cozier seats and more bells and whistles such as 3-D flicks and in-house arcades, nothing beats the lure of the drive-in, Brown insists. Movie-goers can cuddle in the privacy of their car and enjoy the nostalgia that was born when the Sussex Drive-in opened in a farmer's field on the Aiton Road in the much quieter diary town of 1967. Despite drive-ins closing around the country, people still love to see a movie under the stars.
The Sussex Drive-in is the only remaining outdoor movie theatre in the province. Last year the Neptune Drive-in Theatre in Shediac didn't reopen because it couldn't continue to struggle to survive.
The Sussex Drive-in could have suffered the same fate it if wasn't for Saint John businessmen Tom Boudreau, Paul Galloway and Randy Defazio. They took over the business partway through last summer's season from founders Gerald Alexander, his wife Audrey, her brother Don Delong and his wife Marg. They had operated the drive-in for 41 years and were looking for a rest, and had wanted to sell the business for quite some time when the new owners came along.
The new owners believe that while drive-ins have died steadily throughout the province over the years, they can be successful by catering to those people looking for a unique experience or who may want to relive scenes from their past.
"There will always be the novelty of the drive-in," Brown said. "People come from everywhere for the experience.
"Many of the people we see grew up with the drive-in. They just love coming here."
She said the elderly come for sentimental reasons, and while young families come as a way for mom and dad to share an experience from their childhood with their own little ones, it is also an affordable outing where snacks from home are welcomed and children under six get in free. And with two movies for the admission, and with the backseat making a convenient bed for sleepy children, the outing is an enjoyable one for all the family, Brown said.
This weekend the drive-in season will open with the animated Monsters vs. Aliens and the comedy I Love You, Man showing Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. On long weekends until the drive-in's fall closure, Sunday nights include a triple bill.
Shows start at dusk, with admission $8.50 for adults, $7 for students 12 and older, $4 for children six to 12, and free for those under six.
And like every year, the canteen will carry its complete menu including typical movie favourites such as popcorn and nachos, as well as chicken wings, hamburgers, hotdogs, pogos, clams and chips, fries and onion rings.
Next door to the drive-in the same men also purchased the Town and Country Campark, which Brown also manages. She said this year the camp ground is adding another 60 to 80 lots, installing a new swimming pool for campers as well as a giant inflatable bouncing pillow for the children. A new recreation hall was built last year and improved playground equipment added.
While it's difficult for campers to catch the movie from their camping lot, they can drive their car into the drive-in to enjoy the movie with the price per load being the cost of one adult admission.
Source: "New Brunswick's last remaining drive-in will open for its 42nd season on Friday night" by Tammy Scott-Wallace -The Telegraph-Journal. Read full article at: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/city/article/659356