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Only in Erie: The Sunset Drive-In Theater

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Only in Erie: The Sunset Drive-In Theater

There are a number of things my fiancée Jess and I try to fit in at least once a year when the season of romance rolls around. As far as summer entertainment goes, Erie certainly isn’t lacking. Attractions like the Erie Zoo and Waldameer Park and Water World are staples of local life, but what newcomers might not know about are the number of things to do just outside Erie County.

Enter the Sunset Drive-In Theater in Waterford, Pennsylvania. Dating back to the 1940s, the Sunset Drive-In has historically hosted double features on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The films are paired by release date, and sometimes by genre – say, Finding Dory and The Jungle Book – but other times, it’s all about the blockbusters.

Well, this weekend was a blockbuster weekend as my associates and I (including the Ghost of Edge Writers’ Past, Mary Kate Carroll) took off in our vehicles to see The Secret Life of Pets and Independence Day: Resurgence on a cloudy and cool Saturday night. Unsurprisingly, upon our arrival, cars had already begun lining up over the hill preceding the drive-ins. As we waited, the five of us were able to smuggle about a pizza and a half into the drive-ins via our stomachs. To be honest, I couldn’t remember whether or not food was permitted, but alas, the sign that waited for us attached to the ticket window only forbade grills, fireworks and dogs (but, strangely enough, not cats).

We rolled into a spot in the back and began to set up shop. Jess and I had brought my dad’s truck and an air mattress, complete with several pillows from my home set to prepare the ultimate comfort zone. Besides, we would be here for a total of like seven hours. Who needs style when you have a truck bed full of pillows? Unfortunately, there is one thing we didn’t prepare for, and that was the rain. Nearly as soon as we finished laying things out for the movies, the light sprinkle turned into a drizzle, which soon turned into full blown rain.

And it wasn’t easy getting out of the back of that truck. The air mattress took up most of the surface area of the truck bed, and I had previously taken off my shoes to avoid stepping on said air mattress. These were my regrets as our truck bed filled with water. Luckily, our friend Richie was two steps ahead of us, and promptly rolled out the bed cover over top of us until the rain stopped. Sure, it was not ideal and of questionable cleanliness, but it was an experience, and that’s what we came there for.

So finally, after hours of waiting (and braving the snack bar line), the first film was about to begin: The Secret Life of Pets. We were about three-quarters of the way back and stage right, leading to a smaller screen but a full one at least. We tuned in our radios to get the film’s audio, sat back, and relaxed. It was nice! If you want my personal review, I think fiancée enjoyed it a little bit more than I did – it lacked the emotion punch of an UP or an Inside Out – but it was a fine and funny film with an excellent cast.

Independence Day: Resurgence, on the other hand…well, let’s just say after another hour-long round of “Will You Make It Out of This Snack Bar Before The Next Film Starts” (the answer is no), we stuck around for the first half of the film (or at least until we saw an alien) and once Jeff Goldblum basically spoiled the movie’s ending, we decided to call it a night and head back home. Still, to see one and a half movies for the price of one isn’t bad at all, and if we’re being honest, you’re paying for the experience. Granted, it may be an experience you only need about once a year. But if you can get over the obnoxiously long bathroom lines and kids playing football right next to your car, the Sunset Drive-Ins could be a nice local getaway for you and your friends this summer.

Aaron is a senior journalism communication major with hobbies including making (and writing about) music, comedy, the paranormal and naps. You can typically find him in the Edge Office or somewhere off campus record shopping.

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