Normally, a drive-in theater would pack up all their gear after Halloween, close the gates, and hang a “thank you, see you in the spring” sign on their marquee, and call it a year worth operating.
Then there’s the Jericho Drive-In. In a normal year, they’d be happy for another year of operation.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. And with it, a statewide lockdown to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Eventually, though, Governor Cuomo allowed drive-in theaters to operate with social distancing guidelines.
And boy, did the Jericho make the most of their opportunity.
The Glenmont-based drive-in became, for 2020, a multi-purpose venue. It hosted several high school graduations. It offered “movie-and-concert” nights (a Fleetwood Mac tribute band performing before the film Almost Famous). It hosted a wedding (the bride and groom actually had their first date at the Jericho). It hosted various special events (the “Dark Side of the Rainbow” show, in which a Pink Floyd tribute band played “Dark Side of the Moon” alongside the “Wizard of Oz” movie).
Oh yeah, and they still showed double features on the weekends. Even though the movie studios wouldn’t send the Jericho any brand new product, the theater set up creative “classic movie night double features” like a double-billing of Grease and Footloose, or a double-feature of Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Oh yeah, and they let me photograph the marquee for what certainly will be an entry for Competition Season 2021.
The pandemic has also allowed them to upgrade their concession stand and ordering platforms. You can now order your popcorn and hamburgers and french fries and mozzarella sticks (with raspberry sauce) though a phone app. The TWIST ice cream parlor also has on-phone ordering, both available during movie nights.
In other words, the Jericho’s owners didn’t just sit and moan over what happened. They moved mountains. They made 2020 happen. Trust me, nothing could stop them. Not COVID-19, not thunderstorms, not nothing.
This is the kind of feel-good story that works these days. And I am so totally down with feel-good stories.
So here’s the deal. In 2021, when the Jericho opens its doors for its next movie season, make an effort to go to the drive-in and support a local business. Buy a season pass if you want. Grab a couple of lawn chairs and a radio, sit outside and watch two great films for the price of one.
And come next year, when the Times Union does their annual “Best of the Capital Region” push, make sure you give the Jericho Drive-In its well-deserved votes.
That’s truly what works these days.