Drive-in Theater Offers Escape from Pandemic with Trip Back in Time


About 90 minutes north of the city, a drive-in movie theater is bringing back the 1950s — and it’s giving families an escape from the coronavirus pandemic, too.

“You can tell this is just a nice change for everybody to be outside and to know that you’re going to be entertained, but still be safe,” said Scott Dehn, owner of the McHenry Outdoor Theater.

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“I think it’s necessary, I think we kind of all need that. Everyone focuses on the physical health, but I think mental health is just as important. This in its own kind of unique way serves that purpose too,” he said.

With a capacity of 350 — down from the usual 700 in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines — families arrived as early as 3 p.m. for the 8:30 p.m. show on opening night.

  • Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

    Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

  • Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

    Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

  • Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

    Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

  • Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

    Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

  • Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

    Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

  • Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

    Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

  • Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

    Opening night at the McHenry Outdoor Theater. (WTTW News)

“It gets you out of the house, for even just for a little bit,” said a Carol Stream resident.

With opening night paid for by a local sponsor, Dehn says he’s grateful to be able to offer the entertainment to the community.

“As long as we can make enough money to pay the bills and live to fight another day next year, when hopefully this pandemic is over, that’s cool with me,” said Dehn.

Tickets for future screenings are $6-$12 per person, and they are not sold online. The box office opens at 6:30 p.m., but early arrival is suggested. 

The city of Harvey is also offering pop-up drive-in movie theaters.

Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.


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