The Starlight Drive-In Theatre in Enderby is a popular hot spot during the summer months, but this year, its facing unusual hurdles brought on by COVID-19 and the provincial government’s response.
Now, one Vernon resident has started a fundraiser to ensure North America’s largest drive-in screen will survive the hardships.
On May 25, British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed drive-in theatres are not exempt from the 50-car limit implemented to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Starlight had only recently reopened with several safety measures in place, including an online reservation system, limited attendance and hours of operation.
The drive-in was able to serve around 100 customers a night, but the new provincial order sliced that capacity in half. A reduced clientele didn’t bode well for the summer season’s feasibility and staff had to re-evaluate their plans.
“We have been asked by many, ‘what can we do to help?’ The answer is simple: Please come to our shows,” the website reads.
Vernonite Pascal Belanger organized a GoFundMe campaign to help save the theatre “for future generations to enjoy.”
A $20,000 goal has been set and donations have already started to roll in.
“This is crazy,” Belanger wrote regarding the province’s vehicle limit. “It’s outdoors. Everyone keeps to their own car, concession employees are protected.”
“One of the lone forms of family entertainment and the government has ended it,” Belanger wrote. “The owner concluded ‘only a public outcry will save my business.’”
“We as a society need venues like a nostalgic drive-in theatre.”
Following the top doc’s orders, Starlight is opening five nights this weekend and said it will add more nights “if and when the current nights are sold out.”
“Your continued attendance during this difficult time will help us return to regular operations when permitted to do so,” the website reads.
As it stands, tickets must be pre-purchased online, concession is closed, patrons are to stay in their vehicles with the exception of using the restroom facilities and pets are not allowed at this time.