Tanya Sponagle watched her first movie under the stars as a child. Originally from Avonport, Sponagle fondly remembers getting changed into her jammies and hitting the road in the family’s old station wagon to take in a flick on the outdoor big screen along Highway 1 in Cambridge.
“My favourite movie back then was The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” she recalls with a smile.
She continued to visit the drive-in in her teen years and later started taking her own children there.
She has oodles of memories from the drive-in, including the time she left her seven-year-old daughter alone in the car long enough to grab snacks during Jurassic Park.
“I went to get food at the wrong time and then there’s dinosaurs eating people,” she says with a laugh.
“She’ll never forget that one.”
It seems only fitting that Sponagle ended up marrying Ron LeBlanc, a Coldbrook and District Lions Club member who helps with the drive-in on a weekly basis.
“We go every week,” she says.
The Cambridge residents see several familiar faces week after week, and can count themselves among the regulars with a preferred parking spot.
“It’s summer in the Valley. It’s such a small town, unique, enjoyable experience. We are so lucky to have it,” she says.
“Pre-movie, a lot of people are out walking around, kids are out playing. It’s a sense of community.”
Valley Drive-In Theatre spokesperson Kirk Longmire, a member of the Coldbrook and District Lions Club, says interest in the facility continues to grow as new people learn about it.
“I think it’s just that throwback to the old bygone era… it gets the family together,” says Longmire.
“We want people to unplug and relax and just watch the movie and spend some time together.”
Money raised at the drive-in goes back into the community through projects supported by the Coldbrook and District Lions Club.
Local non-profit groups take turns hosting 50/50 fundraisers at the site each week and the screen can be rented for private functions.
“There was in excess of $15,000 raised in 50/50s there last year from various groups,” Longmire says.
Opening weekend is marked for May 6-8 this year, with the season expected to wrap the last weekend of October.
The movies for the first weekend had yet to be announced as of April 27, but Longmire anticipates it will be a busy season.
“This summer it looks like a good crop of movies (are) coming.”
Go online: www.valleydrivein.com