It’s two hours before nightfall
on a warm summer night in New Jersey Cars roll onto sand and gravel fields jockeying for a prime spot near two massive screens that rise from a clearing in Cumberland County. Hi, how are you doing welcome to the Delsea Drive-In. We’re here for movie night in Vineland about 35 miles west of Atlantic City This place is a blast from the past and sadly the last of its kind in the state. A far cry from times when there were somewhere between 4000 and 7000 operating in the United States. Thank you. You’re welcome enjoy the movie. New Jersey has a rich history with drive-ins. It was just up route 55 in Camden County 86 years ago when the first drive-in opened. Drive-ins peaked in the 1950s But the rise of television and the increasing demand for real estate were a one-two punch that rocked the industry. The Delsea Drive in actually sat closed
for 17 years until 2004 when John and Judy Deleonardis took over and resurrected this property. So we realized there wasn’t a lot to do for families here in Cumberland County in particular. So we, started brainstorming like what could we do and I just stood in the field and said gee I wonder maybe we should bring back a Drive in. We came upon the property and my wife says well maybe we can get the drive-in back cuz the screen was still up Didn’t know what it was gonna take. For us has newcomers to this sort of thing Somewhat overwhelming. That’s our marquis could use a little bit of a facelift I’m missing a couple letters because we ran out of letters. So I did what I could do, improvised. What brings the folks out? Nostalgia. It’s the taste of the past that the whole family can share. And that’s kind of what makes this place so special. You get a little piece of history that we got to do something that our Grandparents used to do. Here you have your own little environment.
You meet new people you have fun. When I was little I used to come all the time.
It’s awesome It’s great. The thing that’s unique about the drive-in
is this is the atmosphere. There is still something that that communal setting offers to people. While not as popular as it once was
the Delsea Drive-In is holding its own. John and Jude show first-time films
and family classics on their two screens. Cost, 12 bucks for a double feature. Age 4 to 11, 7 bucks. That’s entertainment value that you just can’t beat. I like the purity the simplicity. I am not convinced that new is better. So you’ve got a generation that doesn’t know anything about drive-ins. It’s a sense of uh say responsibility. You know because it started in Jersey, you know, we’re running Ok. Not making oodles of money
but that’s part of the drive-in You know, labor of love they call it right? So here we are only one in New Jersey. Try it you know. You might like it.