Almost as fast as the show was announced Friday morning, the city of Charleston’s first free drive-in movie was fully booked.
In a news release, the city announced plans to turn the Big Lots parking lot at Patrick Street Plaza into a drive-in to show films June 12, July 10 and Aug. 14. Also announced was a June 13 concert featuring Fletcher’s Grove and The Parachute Brigade.
Because of the nature of a drive-in and the dimensions of the parking lot, space was limited to 261 cars. The city began taking reservations at 9 a.m. and, within an hour, all spaces for the first movie, “Jumanji: The Next Level,” were claimed.
“We sent it up as a kind of test balloon,” Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said. “The response was overwhelming.”
By early Friday afternoon, only a few dozen reservations were still available for the June 13 drive-in concert. “Aladdin” (July 10) and “The Lion King” (Aug. 14) are the other movies planned.
“That just tells us that the want for something like this is there, and that we need to go back to the drawing board,” Goodwin said.
The city, she said, explored setting up a temporary drive-in for events because it allowed people to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic while still providing a shared experience.
“It’s something people really want, and it just made good sense,” Goodwin said.
The mayor said she is no stranger to drive-in movies; she remembers her parents taking the family to films when she was a child, and telling Goodwin and her sister to go to sleep after the cartoons. She also remembers staying up past the cartoons to watch “Grease.”
“It was a wonderful childhood memory of mine,” she said.
Because of the response, Goodwin said, the city already is looking into additional dates and events through the summer.
The free movie nights are being presented in partnership with WQBE and Electric 102.7. For several years, the radio stations have hosted free family movie nights at Charleston’s Magic Island.
In the news release announcing the series, WQBE’s Jeff Jeffreys said, “With so many summer entertainment events being canceled or postponed, this is a chance to have a fun night out with the family done in a safe way.”
All films begin at 9 p.m. and include a 30-minute cartoon before the feature presentation.
The June 14 concert begins at 7:30 p.m. It is presented in partnership with Moses Automotive, which has been the signature sponsor of the Live on the Levee summer concert series at Haddad Riverfront Park. Those shows were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Parking for each event begins 90 minutes prior to start and is on a first-come, first-served basis. All tickets must be reserved and are issued by vehicle, not by person.
A limited number of tickets to the concert with Fletcher’s Grove and The Parachute Brigade can be reserved now through EventBrite.com. Tickets for “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” will be released at a later date. For more information, visit www.charlestonwv.gov.
Putnam County will host its own free drive-in style movie June 5 and 6 at Valley Park. The film, “Toy Story 4,” will be shown at dusk. For more information, call 304-757-6510 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.