Last summer drive-ins across America faced a crisis: switch to digital or go dark. Thirty-five millimeter film met the cutting room for the final time at the end of 2013, and many drive-ins had not been able to make the costly switch to digital, but a savor showed up in the form of Honda. Honda, under the title of Project Drive-In, said they would donate digital projectors to five drive-ins (the later announced they were keeping the voting open to save a few more) in America, based on your votes! “My” drive-in (that is the drive-in closest to where I live), the 99W, was in the running, and I blogged about Project Drive-In last August, and asked for you to vote for the 99W, unless of course your hometown drive-in was in the running. Thankfully the 99W WON! Getting a new digital projector installed during their off-season this last winter! I would like to thank each and every one of you who voted for the 99W, and it is thanks to you that Patrick and I got to go to this beloved icon last night.
Patrick and I had been meaning to get to the drive-in, now that we own a car, but other commitments prevented us from attending until last night. After pulling in, Patrick and I walked around the property and ended up chatting with Brian, the owner of the 99W, and he invited us up to the projection booth to take a peek at the new digital projector, a tombstone for film that he made, as well as get quite the view from atop the concession stand!
Brian shared some of the background about the 99W with us, that the area was originally all orchards, and the battles that the drive-in continues to face, such as ambient light from continued development around the property. It was a true treat to visit the projection booth and look out on all of the cars waiting for dusk as the cottonwood trees waved in the breeze.
If you live in the Portland-Metro area, I can’t encourage you enough to visit the 99W. It’s a true treasure of our area. If you don’t live in the Portland-Metro area, remember that Oregon has the Milton-Freewater Drive-In, and a drive-in in La Grande. Not in Oregon? Use Drive-ins.com to find a drive-in close to you!