With almost everyone stuck at home this summer, the Balloon Fiesta Park’s new drive-in theater offers a fun and exciting option to get out of the house and make a new memory.
This drive-in was created by three friends from St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe. Other locations hosting drive-ins include O'Reilly's Pub, Cottonwood Mall and the occasional night hosted by the Guild Theatre at Balloon Fiesta Park.
Due to the pandemic, the drive-in’s operators need to heed ongoing social distancing regulations, keeping cars four to six feet apart and requiring masks whenever outside of a car.
“We were sort of looking for a way to be socially responsible, ethical, and be like a leader in terms of mask wearing. We want everyone to wear masks. If you don’t have a mask, we will give you one,” said Kurt Young, one of the creators of the drive-in at Balloon Fiesta Park said.
The entry fee ranges from $25 to $75, depending on where moviegoers park their cars. All prices are per car, and up to five people are allowed in one vehicle, according to the website. The films at Balloon Fiesta Park are scheduled to start at 7pm and end at 11pm, and pets are not allowed at the venue.
“When you get out here, you feel fantastic. You connect with people in a way that you really can’t otherwise right now. We were in my hatchback, just watching the movies and going, ‘Wow, this is cool,’” Young said.
All the proceeds made from the Balloon Fiesta Park drive-in goes toward providing aid in the Navajo Nation, according to Young.
“With the money we make, we are buying supplies for the Navajo Nation. We have an arrangement this week or the next to drop off food, water and testing supplies. If you want to help donate to the Navajo Nation, come watch a movie,” said Young.
Visitors can buy concessions and popcorn from food trucks on-site, and other facilities like security and bathrooms are also provided.
“We buy the masks ourselves, out of our own pocket. We also have security going up and down to make sure everyone has a mask, if your lights are on we make sure they’re turned off,” Young said.
Once parked in front of the screen, viewers tune their car radios to 97.9 FM for audio playback.
All films shown so far have been family-friendly, screening classics like Grease (1978) and Shrek (2001).
This weekend, visitors can look forward to movies like How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
“For my days off, this is better than to spend the extra money at a restaurant, so we all get to get a little bit out,” said attendee Natasha Bryant, a mother of two.
The drive-in also shows more mature films, such as The Matrix (1999), which is scheduled to play on July 31. Gates open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m.
“It’s nice that they’re doing this. It’s amazing, like ‘back in the day’ type of fun,” said attendee Trista Pena, a visitor from Grants.
“I watch tons of movies and to get out here in the open air during the Summer it makes you think, you know maybe we can live with this. Maybe it’s not so bad after all,” said Young.
Lauren McDonald is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @old_mcdonald25