INDIANAPOLIS — Visit Indiana is taking its “20 IN 20” list of tourist attractions to the big screen.
Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback, especially as more Hoosiers are wanting to catch the latest films while also social distancing. Many drive-in theaters throughout the state are making changes to accommodate their visitors, according to the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.
“From parking cars at least 6 feet apart to pre-purchasing tickets to concession stand adjustments, theater owners are making changes to keep visitors safe and healthy,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch.
The Auburn Garrett Drive-In on S.R. 8 opened in 1951 as the Tri-Hi Drive-In, showing “Isn’t It Romantic.” In 1960, the theater expanded the parking area from 150 cars to 420 cars. It was renamed Garrett Drive-In in 1959 and expanded to Auburn Garrett Drive-In Theatre in 1960.
The current, much larger screen was erected in the early 1970s, and parking was added to bring the theater’s capacity to 420 cars. Audio originally was provided by speakers mounted on pedestals, but is now provided on the 88.7-FM radio signal. It is open through September.
The theater has posted social-distancing guidelines on its website. Only one car is permitted between posts. Only one person per car can come to the concession stand. Only four people at any given time can enter the concession stand, which has a limited menu, and employees will wear masks and gloves at all times.
Only two people at a time can use restrooms, which will be cleaned every half-hour.
Elsewhere in the state, the Tibbs Drive-In has been a staple in the Indianapolis area since 1967. Two additional large outdoor movie screens were added to the drive-in later in 1972 and another one in 2012. Now the theater shows double features on all four screens.
The Centerbrook Drive-In first opened in 1950 in Martinsville. Centerbrook gets its name from the two nearby towns of Centerton and Brooklyn. The concession stand serves funnel cake fries, and the popcorn popper is old-school, from the early 1970s.
“The State of Indiana has the fourth-largest number of drive-in theaters still in operation in America,” said Misty Weisensteiner, director of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. “You can’t help but feel a little nostalgic when talking about drive-ins. It’s about reliving childhood memories or making new memories.”
People can show Visit Indiana their drive-in photos for a chance to win a prize. Photographers can post their pictures on Instagram with #The20IN20 for a chance to win a giveaway. The office will randomly draw 20 winners every other month. Winners will receive a beanie cap, golf umbrella, beach towel or stadium blanket.