LEHIGHTON, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The lights won’t go dark at a popular drive-in movie theater in Carbon County.
The Mahoning Drive-In Movie Theatre was in danger of shutting down. But Thursday night, there was a lot to celebrate as a movie festival kicked off with a headline that’s not on the marquis.
“I started coming July 30, 2016 and have been a regular ever since then,” Mike Kenny of Westfield, New Jersey said.
Kenny is one of Mahoning Drive-In movie theater’s biggest fans. He’s been making the hour-and-a-half trek every week to see films here for years. But this weekend is extra special.
“Outside of almost crashing the car when I heard the news, ecstatic!” Kenny said.
It was announced Thursday the historic drive-in theater in Lehighton will be able to stay open. It was in danger of being sold to ‘Greenskies Clean Energy LLC’ based in Connecticut to be turned into a solar energy farm.
“When we put it out to the public that we didn’t want this to happen, we wanted the chance to buy the land ourselves and allow ourselves to continue for another 72 years, Greenskies saw that,” theater general manager Mark Nelson said.
The company decided to back out of the project, saying in part: “The outpouring of support from the local community and cinephiles near and far has demonstrated the unique value the Mahoning Drive-In represents. Greenskies is proud to have played a part in helping preserve a celebrated business like the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.”
It’s a move Nelson says is a huge victory. And the timing is perfect as they’re in the middle of one of their most popular events, the ‘Joe Bob Brigg’s Drive-In Jamboree.’
“So it’s a mix of elation and ‘oh my God we can keep doing this’ and ‘oh my God we have to do the next three days,” Nelson said.
Their rally cries paid off. And the nostalgic setting will continue to thrive under the stars.
“We are surrounded by hundreds of people from nearly every state in the country for 35mm goodness and Joe Bob Briggs. It’s the perfect combo,” Kenny said.
The theater’s next step is to purchase the land legally. They are also planning a celebration party on August 2nd at the drive-in grounds.