The Mansfield Drive-In Theatre is a little piece of Connecticut nostalgia that’s celebrating a big anniversary.
The business has been around for more than 60 years, and this year marks 45 years in business under the same family.
“You get to be outside. You get to be with your friends and family and interact with them in the movie… which you don’t get to do indoors,” owner Michael Jungden explained.
This time of year, on weekends in Mansfield an annual tradition with a long history is starting its season once again.
“A lot of people are sitting outside in lawn chairs and stuff like that… eating their snacks and stuff together,” Jungden explained.
For nearly a half-century, Jungden has been keeping the theatre going. He came to work there in 1974, eventually leasing the land from its previous owner and saving up enough to purchase it in 1991. After 45 years one might think he’d be ready to retire, but he said retirement will be relative in his life.
“It all depends on my children. I don’t think I’ll be around for another 45 years. Hopefully they will,” he said.
His daughter Naomi works as the general manager. She’s had a big part in modernizing the theatre, which holds more than 900 cars on busy nights.
Gone are the days of film rolls – the projection room is all digital now.
“Everybody who comes here is like oh, I remember coming here as a kid. It’s such a good family thing,” Naomi said. “It’s just so much fun, honestly, it’s just so much fun.”
They kick off the new season Friday, following the flea market they run at the same location that’s been going for a few weeks.
Every movie is a double feature, and they hope double the fun to keep the place going for years.
“It’s so much more of a social experience. If you have kids, we have a playground you can come to. It’s not just go to a movie theater and sit in a seat,” Naomi said.
The theatre will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until mid-June, when they open every night all summer long.