“Everybody has this romantic, nostalgic memory of going to the drive-in with their friends and family,” says 13-24 Drive-In owner, Parker Beauchamp. “I was afraid the little guys were going to miss that opportunity. It’s a good bonding experience with friends and family.”
In an age where you can get almost any movie ever made on the TV in your living room with just a few clicks, drive-in theaters are disappearing at an alarming rate. At the height of their popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in the USA. At present, www.drive-ins.com estimates there are less than 400 left in the country.
The 13-24 Drive-In was in danger of becoming another casualty of the digital revolution. Beauchamp says when the previous owner gave up the drive-in, the Economic Development Group of Wabash County wanted to level the place.
“I cut a deal with them: ‘let me run with this for awhile, but you’ll have to promise me that you’ll consider every other option,’” Beauchamp recalls. “In the meantime I could prove to them that it’d be a good opportunity.”
During his time running the drive-in, Beauchamp had a chat with Tod Minnich, president and CEO of the Honeywell Foundation. The two agreed that the historic entertainment venue needed to be preserved, and the two hatched a plan: Beauchamp, along with his wife, Katie, and parents, Michael and Angie Beauchamp (all long-time supporters of the Honeywell Foundation) would buy the drive-in, and the Honeywell Foundation would run it.
“It’s been good,” says Beauchamp. “It’s popular, and it keeps getting more and more popular. Every year we doing something a little bit different.”
Under the new ownership, 13-24 Drive-In has received some updates. Digital projectors were installed last year. The concession stand offers fair food, like cotton candy and elephant ears, in addition to the typical concession stand fare.
This year, management at the drive-in has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Every Thursday night in June 13-24 will feature “Retro Reels.” Classic flicks from the 70s and 80s will roll on the big screen, and the price of admission is just $5 per car – classic cars are encouraged to attend.
The line-up for “Retro Reels” will be:
- “Grease” – June 4
- “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” – June 11
- “Top Gun” – June 18
- “Dirty Dancing” – June 25
Additionally, courtesy of Inguard (the insurance/risk management company for which Beauchamp is CEO), kids 12 years old and younger are admitted free for all weekend showings. For those too old for free passes, admission is only $5 per showing.
Season passes will also be offered this year. For a mere $40 per person, patrons can visit on Fridays and Saturdays as often as they’d like throughout the 2015 season.
The season opens at 8 p.m. Friday, May 1 with the highly-anticipated summer blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (rated PG-13). The movie rolls at 9:15 p.m.
“I think drive-ins and old historic theaters are going to be the survivors. I think it’s the big megaplexes, those are the ones that are in trouble,” Beauchamp says. “Our proposition is unique. It’s outdoors. I think it’s a winner. I can’t wait for when my son’s a little older, and I can take him out there and watch a movie from the back of the minivan.”