Barkhamsted Drive-In Theater in Danger of Closing

The drive-in movie theater is a tradition long-loved by many, but long-forgotten by others, and Barkhamsted residents are concerned their theater might be closing for good.

People in Barkhamsted remember going to the Pleasant Valley Drive-In on Friday and Saturday nights while growing up.

But as movie makers go all-digital at the end of the year, this classic American drive-in theater is in danger of shutting its doors.

“My father was the projectionist,” said Deborah Brydon of Barkhamsted, “and my mother worked in the ticket booth and the kitchen.”

With iPhones, iPads and other portable electronics, movie distributors are doing away with 35mm film, rendering these classic pieces of American history obsolete.

“The town is obviously very interested in keeping it," said Barkhamsted First Selectman Don Stein. "It’s symbolic of the town. It’s an inherit part of the community, in the fabric of the community.”

But in order to stay open, the drive-in will need $80,000 to buy a digital projector. The theater entered a contest to win, but on Monday night, learned that it lost.

Stein said that even though generations of the town’s 3,800 people have enjoyed movies at Pleasant Valley, the town itself can’t afford to offer any help.

“I’ve got six months to try and raise the money and get new projectors in here,” said drive-in owner Donna McGrane. “So hopefully we can get some fundraisers going and make it happen.”

McGrane said she was upset after getting the news on Monday, but as people began offering help, she regained some optimism.

“I didn’t realize how many people cared about the drive-in, especially in Barkhamsted,” said McGrane. “It’s been incredible, the support I’ve gotten."

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