U.P.'s only drive in theater gears up for special showings

MANISTIQUE — After being shut down for the better part of the last two decades, a local drive in theater is in the midst of a revival.

“It was a very, very popular spot when I was growing up here in Manistique,” said Executive Director of the Schoolcraft Economic Development Corporation Alan Barr. “Typically, full crowds, families, good place to bring a date to, very popular for that.”

The Cinema 2 Drive In Theater was a hopping hang out for residents of Manistique when it opened in the fifties. When the economy fell in the early 2000’s, the theater shut down, leaving locals feeling a little melancholy.

But the desire to do something nice for the community empowered members of the Schoolcraft County Economic Development Corporation to breathe life back into the long–vacant land. In collaboration with Limestone Federal Credit Union and several dedicated volunteers, the drive in showed Back to the Future last month.

With a whopping 343 cars parked in the yard and over 1,200 people in attendance, the showing received a lot of attention.

“We had folks from 11 other UP communities, that we know of, come to that first drive in show. From other states, somebody from Canada even drove in,” Barr said. It was a huge event, drew a lot of people, a lot of interest. I think it just goes to show when you do a good deed, good things happen.”

“The last guy who made it through the gate before we were out of parking spots was happy beyond belief to be able to get in here and see this,” said a volunteer on the project, Eric Sherbinow. “He had the very worst spot in the yard to watch from, but he was still extremely happy. And we didn’t have to turn anyone away.”

Coordinators received positive feedback and a plethora of inquiries about a second showing.

Interested in the idea, but knowing the equipment wasn’t quite up to par, Sherbinow started a Go Fund Me page to raise money for a new projector. In just 10 days, the goal of $2,500 was raised.

With newfound enthusiasm and proper equipment, coordinators are excited about the possibilities the drive in holds.

“One of the ideas I would love to happen is maybe collecting home movies and old film of the area and putting that on some kind of digital format and being able to play that for a historical event,” said Sherbinow.

But for now, those involved are happy to put on a handful of classics from the eras where drive ins were all the rage.

The drive in will be open at least one more time this year with the showing of Miracle on September 10, sponsored by the Manistique Hockey Association. Attendance is free and all are welcome.