A Gibson City business is celebrating its 66th year.
Harvest Moon Drive-in has been keeping up with social distancing measures as it offers a variety of special events to help celebrate its anniversary.
Owner Mike Harroun said the drive-in has been offering special events, like concerts, as part of the celebration. The drive-in is also offering movies throughout the season and is open seven nights a week.
The Garth Brooks concert was well received, Harroun said. The crowd really enjoyed the show, he said.
The next big event will be July 25, when the drive-in will host Encore Drive-in Nights presents Blake Sheldon, Gwen Stefani and Trace Adkins. Tickets went on sale at Ticketmaster July 14.
While the drive-in opened later than normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harroun said they have taken many precautions and are working with the health department on making sure that guidelines are being met to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone.
The drive-in must limit it’s capacity to half of what it usually would be. One vehicle can be parked between the poles, he said, instead of the normal two vehicles. A group of people from the same household can have the two vehicles parked together between the poles, but those in that group must still follow social distancing guidelines from other people in the drive-in.
Harroun said they are offering most of the tickets for any given event online, with a small percentage available for onsite purchases with minimal contact. Because of this, Harroun said people should place ahead of time to get to the drive-in, especially if the plan to purchase tickets in person.
The concession stand and Burger Barn are also open and ready to serve the public, but some changes have been made to accommodate social distancing guidelines there, too. People will be required to wear masks at the stands, and stay six feet apart. Harroun said they are offering sanitizer near the entry and exits for people to use. People who want to take their own food to the drive-in may do so but must purchase a food permit, which is available at the drive-in.
Employees are sanitizing those areas, as well as the restroom areas, after every three people. Harroun said that the employees have been taking care of each step of the way. The person who prepares the food does not touch the money, for example. There are two people for that, he said.
Harroun revived the drive-in when he purchased it in 1989 from Clifford and Joyce Orr. They had started the drive-in in 1954.
“Wonderful people,” Harroun said of the Orrs.
Harroun was not a stranger to the movie theater businesses. He had operated in-door theaters, including Watseka and Paxton.
Harroun said that he put a lot of time and money into the drive-in, renovating it and opening it with one screen. by 1996 he was able to add a second screen. In 2013, with the help of supporters and a bank loan, the drive-in was converted to digital projection.
Harroun said the patrons are very supportive. “We bring in lots of people from outside the area,” he said, noting that local residents also attend the drive-in features regularly.
So, while the drive-in isn’t filled to full capacity, he said they are working through the requirements for social distancing and most people have been cooperative. With the movie industry not releasing new movies during the pandemic the public has been enjoying double features of some classic films. The next set of features is July 17-22 with Beauty and The Beast and Bohemian Rhapsody. July 23-26 will feature two horror double features: The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors and then Evil Dead and Army of Darkness.
The drive-in has a website, harvestmoondrivein.com, and a Facebook page. It’s located at 1175 S. Sangamon Ave., Gibson City. For more information call 217-784-8770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.