Aug 23, 2013
08:57 AM
Arts & Entertainment

Will Honda's Project Drive-In Help Save Beloved Litchfield County Venue?

Will Honda's Project Drive-In Help Save Beloved Litchfield County Venue?

Kate Hartman/Register Citizen

Local supporters came out on Aug. 22 to film a promotion video for the Pleasant Valley Drive-In in Honda’s “Project Drive-In” contest.

The Pleasant Valley Drive In, what appears to be a  large lawn facing an expansive white screen near the Farmington River, has been a Barkhamsted staple since 1947.

It’s been open continuously since then, delighting all ages with double features. That could all change early next year when movie studios discontinue 35mm film, a threat that has been looming over the remaining drive-ins for a while.

Pleasant Valley, located at 47 River Road, still plays 35mm film on carbon arc projectors, which owner Donna McGrane said is, “part of our charm.” McGrane, who has owned the drive in with her husband for 18 years after growing up next door to it, said she was warned that she would have to go digital in order to keep up with the times.

“These new projectors cost upwards of $75,000, not including installation or anything,” said McGrane.

That huge cost has left the owners of this small-town staple few options: find the funds, which they don’t have, close down or only show old movies, which come with their own host of potential problems. McGrane said that 35mm film disintegrates if not cared for properly and stored in a temperature controlled environment. Costs come along with that too.

One other option popped up on McGrane’s radar suddenly just a week ago. Honda launched “Project Drive-In,” “to help prevent drive-ins from fading to black.”

Their contest allows people to vote for their local drive-ins through Sept. 9. Honda will donate five digital projectors to the top vote earners.

Originally, Pleasant Valley wasn’t on the list of drive-ins people could vote for. McGrane said that she was upset because she believed the company should have opened the contest to all drive-ins, not just a few.

She inquired about getting her drive-in on the list, and Honda welcomed the addition. From there it was just about filing the paperwork and spreading the word. Unfortunately, by the time everything was squared away with getting Pleasant Valley on the Honda website, they had lost 12 days of voting time. In order to stand a chance, the drive-in and local supporters had to rally, which they have done.

Ginny Apple, economic development commission member, began posting on the Town of Barkhamsted’s Facebook page daily to drum up support.

“There were half a million votes in at that point between 80 drive-ins,” Apple said of when they got in the contest. “Now there are 113 drive-ins involved, so I decided we need to do whatever we can to generate some buzz.”

On Thursday night, Apple organized a group of drive-in lovers with classic cars to help film a promotion video for Pleasant Valley to put on the Facebook page.

See the full story at the Register Citizen online.

Will Honda's Project Drive-In Help Save Beloved Litchfield County Venue?

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