Drive-In Movies

In an attempt to recreate the excitement and entertainment that an indoor movie theater elicits, drive-in movies have resurfaced and gained popularity during this quarantine. However, despite the regulations that managers set, questions about safety arise. 

Emma Hughes, Reporter

With constant questions revolving around a Covid free future, this pandemic has encouraged participation in old fashioned activities. Because the modern world has come to a stand-still, movie theaters have had to shut down, halting the viewing of new movies and the enthralling experience that comes with going to the theater. In an attempt to recreate the excitement and entertainment that an indoor movie theater elicits, drive-in movies have resurfaced and gained popularity. These movie theaters, inspired by the 1950s, offer a fun activity to fill time during quarantine. However, despite the regulations that managers set, questions about safety arise. 

Drive-In Movie at the Petaluma Fairgrounds

The setup of the drive-in movie is as simple and safe as possible. Both tickets and any information about the event can be found online. The closest drive-in movie location is at the Petaluma fairgrounds, but there are also drive-in movies playing in Concord, Santa Rosa, and St. Helena. At the Petaluma location, cars form a line before entering the grassy field, and a worker, wearing a mask, approaches the vehicle and asks to see the ticket that you purchased. It is expected that the attendees also wear a mask in their vehicle when talking to the workers. Once approved, the cars enter the field and wait for instruction as to where to park. All workers wear masks and remain six feet away from the vehicles when giving directions and guidance. When parked, all vehicles are required to be a minimum of six feet apart to ensure the safety of everyone participating in the event. The logistics of the drive-in movie are efficient and safe, offering something new to do on a Friday night instead of remaining at home.

Senior Emily Hart comments on her experience at the Petaluma drive-in movie.

“It was a great opportunity to get out of the house in this totally unpredictable time. I will say that going to a movie in a public place, where you can talk and not be overheard, is kind of great. It allows for good commentary during the movie. It’s also a good family experience,” said Hart.

Despite the arrangement, once the lot fills with cars and people, the rules and regulations seem to disappear. Not everyone remains in their vehicle, instead opting to sit in the back of their trucks or set out lawn chairs and blankets to view the movie from the ground. The six feet of distance between the vehicles is swallowed by the movement of those getting out of their cars.

Junior Isabella Dabbas explains her opinion on the drive-in movie experience she had.

“There are people that act like it was just a gathering, and they were just drinking and eating outside or lying on the ground. It sounded like the workers were enforcing the rules based on the email they sent out, but when we got there, they made a weird announcement saying it was our decision to abide by the rules. They weren’t taking the rules seriously and telling the cars they should be safe,” said Dabbas. 

Hart also elaborates on the matter.

“Supposedly everybody was supposed to be staying in their cars, which obviously means social distancing. We were specifically parked six feet apart by the ushers, and normally at the drive-in movie, you can pop the trunk or be in the back of a pickup. They tried to prohibit this, and I will say that they failed miserably. I think that they had all the right rules in place, but they weren’t willing to enforce them. They made an announcement over the speaker that if we were within six feet of each other, that it became a large public gathering and that they could get shut down. And then they proceeded to do nothing about it. They clearly were not that scared that they were going to get shut down,” said Hart.

While going to a drive-in movie is fun and fulfills one’s need for entertainment, there continue to be safety hazards as people disregard the rules. The workers’ leniency to remind the audience to wear masks and remain in their vehicle allows audience members to ignore these set safety precautions, placing both themselves and others at risk. Hearing this, many people are now questioning the safety and reliability of outdoor activities such as this. It is understandable to seek entertainment after months of quarantine; however, in such a large gathering, one must abide by the rules to keep both oneself and the community safe.