MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The Getty Drive-In movie theater in Muskegon, which has seen its busiest year ever amid coronavirus mitigation restrictions that kept indoor theaters closed for months, is preparing to close for the season.
The last showings of the season are scheduled for Sunday, with four separate double features set to screen.
Kevin Sims, who manages the drive-in, said it usually closes around Labor Day but decided to continue into colder weather because of increased patronage stemming from all the coronavirus restrictions.
“This is totally new for me. I’ve been here 39 years and I’m experiencing things for the first time,” Sims said. “I didn’t know how many people were going to come out but they kept on coming out and I was surprised every week at the crowds. But I think they got to the point where they were enjoying the drive-in and it became part of their routine.”
He said he hoped new customers would get hooked on the format and bring their kids to the fun, encouraging business in the future.
The state recently permitted indoor theaters to reopen, but they aren’t allowed to sell concessions. Several who chose the drive-in Saturday said that was why they headed to Getty.
“We want to be able to eat food and watch a movie the same time,” Schandra Amaya of Grand Haven said.
Others in attendance preferred the drive-in experience due to concerns about catching coronavirus.
“It’s safer,” Paul Lankheet of Nunica said. “It’s comfortable (and) not having to be around people and risk anything.”
This weekend’s snowy double features will be the drive-in’s last hurrah of the season, as it would be too difficult to keep operating during the treacherous winter months ahead.
“With the drive-in, the cost of keeping it plowed and clean would far outdo what we would make. So it’s just a business decision that has to be made,” Sims said, who noted that the mild winter has cooperated up to this point. “But hey, we made it to Jan. 3, which is unbelievable to me.”
The Getty Drive-In plans to reopen in April.
**Correction: A previous version of this article stated the drive-in’s last showing was Saturday. That was incorrect. It will also be open Sunday.