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Preserving the Past

The first drive in movie theater in history projected its first movie in 1933. A 1928 Kodiak projector was placed on the hood of a car with a screen pinned to some trees and a radio was placed behind the screen for sound. In 1949 the patent for the drive in theater was approved and the development of drive ins stated popping up all over North America between the 50's and 60's after World War II. Outside movie theaters became a large part of North American culture with over 5000 outside movie screens. They became an icon to the everyday culture, not just for parents and children but also teenage date nights. Since then however, the rising price of real estate, namely in suburban areas, combined with the growing number of walk-in theaters and rise in equipment cost with changing technology caused a large demise in the drive in industry. Today 750 drive ins exist in North America with only a dozen of those in Canada. The Big Island Drive In was created in 1957 by the Ernest family and operated into the 80's before it changed hands into the Leefe and Eastman families and operated until 2015.

The Digital Revolution

The threat to the drive in industry was also brought on by the digital revolution. If you did not upgrade your projector to the digital standard, you were at risk of closure because modern day movies are no longer made on 35 mm film. This was quite a large investment into an uncertain industry. Realizing how important this venue is for the community and surrounding area, Dawn and Dan Hlady purchased the drive in and went forward with the digital conversion so that it can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come. After more than 60 years in operation, this landmark is an asset to the community and the Hlady's look forward to keeping history alive!
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