Ithacans will have a new, socially distanced chance to get some entertainment outside when the Ithaca drive-in theater opens for its first feature film this Friday, July 17.
The movie, "Jurassic Park," will be shown at the City Harbor project site at 101 Pier Road at dusk (listed at around 9 p.m.), which is currently sitting empty as the project designs move through the city planning process. Depending on demand, showings will continue every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for the next three months, until the weather turns too cold. Attendees are asked to remain in their cars during the show to insure social distancing is maintained, and tickets are $20 per car. This Saturday's showing will be of "Minions" at 9 p.m. (or thereabouts) on July 18.
Kevin Sullivan, the organizer of the drive-in and owner of Luna Street Food, contacted Costa Lambrous, who's leading the development of the City Harbor site, three weeks ago to see if there was a chance to set the theater up there, and Lambrous agreed. Sullivan had previously aimed to set up the theater at The Rink in Lansing, but when the plans got caught in the town's approval process, he decided it was best to pivot to a different spot considering the time left in the warm-weather season. The City of Ithaca has approved the plan.
"We'd been planning this since March when [coronavirurs] first started popping up," Sullivan said. "Three weeks ago we decided we were going to work with Costa and that group down there instead of The Rink in Lansing. [...] Time is of the essence, we only have three months really of the season that we can do drive-ins, so we want to maximize and have as many of these as we can."
Sullivan said he hopes to continue the shows each week, though that will depend on interest and how many people show up. He said they are currently limiting attendance to 100 cars, with as many occupants as can have an individual seatbelt in the car (no buses allowed), and they will be parked six feet apart. The site will be equipped with a professional projector and a 30-foot screen, with sound broadcast via FM radio and four-to-six people staffing each show. Concessions are being sold through a non-contact setup, and tickets will be scanned via phone. The events are being sponsored City Harbor, Kelly Davis Events and Catering by Luna.
"This is part of our own organization's effort, as well as in general for the community, to keep working to provide contact-free service to the community and be innovative in that way," Sullivan said, noting that the area is far enough away from residential areas that it shouldn't disturb anyone's homes. "Then, also, to keep people working. The unemployment money has been tremendous in helping people out, but it is going to run out, and we want to make sure we have as many endeavors and businesses still operating within our organization and our community as possible as this pandemic keeps trucking on."