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July 8, 2020

With options for entertainment during Covid times getting thinner by the day, the news this week about Walmart pop-up drive-in theaters got my attention. The scoop is that Walmart and Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises had a lightbulb moment for family movie-going by way of the throwback drive-ins! Starting next month to October, 160 Walmart parking lots will transform into outdoor movie theaters.

I have fond memories of the family cramming into our red and white Chevy station wagon and trekking off to the nearby Floral Drive-in Theater. Dad would drive slowly down each row in the lot looking for an available parking slot. I can still hear the loose gravel underneath the tires. When he found one, Dad would maneuver the car ever-so-carefully to get close to the speaker box. I was proud to have the assignment of taking the speaker off the stand and hooking it onto the window on the driver’s side. Then the older siblings would take the younger siblings to the concession stand to buy buttered popcorn and candy. The lasting memory for me, though, was the garbled quality of the poor-performing speaker.

But Covid-era drive-ins will be all about social distancing and family units staying together in the car. The concession stand will be replaced by food delivery to parked cars. Curbside pick-up will also be an option. The fine details, including the movie line-up, are yet to be announced.

Something tells me there will be an overwhelming response. It will be a You-have-to-do-it-at-least-once-in-your-lifetime moment. I’m willing to give it a try. And when the movie is over, one thing is for sure: There won’t be a rush for the parking garage.

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