The drive-in movie experience

I grew up in Hacienda Heights but my childhood church was in Baldwin Park, about 10 minutes away from the Vineland Drive-In Theater, which is apparently Los Angeles County’s last drive-in theater. And yes, while I was still a silly teen, hanging on to my older sister’s coattails, we used to take advantage of being so close — I mean, bring your own food, bring your own seats and blankets, double feature? What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, drive-in theaters are a dying breed and are pretty much on the endangered list now. Ah, but innovation steps in and says, “Not yet!”

After a 10-year intermission, drive-in movies are returning to Orange County, courtesy of an inflatable silver screen.

Tonight in Costa Mesa, a 300-car theater — and unofficial backseat romance research center — will flicker to life in a parking lot at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

Bankrolled by four baby-boomers, the Star-Vu Drive-In plans to operate year-round, except during fair season.

The last such venue, Westminster’s Hi-way 39 theater, closed in 1997 to make room for a Wal-Mart.

The Star-Vu, with its inflatable screen, represents a quirky new breed of outdoor cinema — and the owners hope to franchise the concept to other cities.

If successful, it could reinvigorate the drive-in industry, which was born 75 years ago in New Jersey when inventor Richard Hollingshead Jr. strung a sheet between two trees and plopped a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car.

If this made its way to my neck of the woods, I can’t even describe how deliriously happy I would be. As it is, all I’ve got is the summer movies in the park, but Trin is not wild about the idea of going to those since the movies are old.

Miss the drive-ins? Walk down memory lane at Drive-In, which has a pretty exhaustive list of surviving California drive-in joints (none of which are close to me) and those that are long-gone (like the one Roy Rivenburg talks about, Westminster’s Hi-way 39 theater, which I also used to frequent with my sis!)

And by the way? It’s super sad that only 10 drive-in theaters survive in Southern California.

Photo thanks to hm6612