Lexington drive-in theater continues to entertain guests through the pandemic


LEXINGTON, Va. (WFXR) — Since the middle of May, moviegoers have been able to pull up their cars for movie night at Hull’s Drive-In Theater in Lexington.

Entering its 71st year in business, Hull’s made some changes for the well-being of its customers amid the pandemic, ranging from ticket sales to restrooms.

“All of our ordering is online, just like you would do with a restaurant, so there’s no interaction within our concession stands,” said Executive Director of Hull’s Angels Inc., Lauren Summers. “All of our ticketing is online, so there’s no cash exchange.”

Summers says the decision to reopen the theater in May was a difficult one, but it was one that had to be made. The theater’s operational changes — which were implemented to meet CDC guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic — have paid off almost two months later.

“Touchless soap dispensers, hand sanitizers, paper towels, all the works,” said Theater Manager Christian Reter. “It was different, definitely, but it’s working out a lot better. You know, it’s less breaking parts. It’s just replacing batteries; it’s so much easier.”

Hull’s is only seating at half capacity, keeping six to 10 feet between vehicles, which isn’t all that bad, according to Summers, who says folks can use that extra space to their advantage.

“…Especially now that you’re in the summertime, when it’s really hot, people don’t want to sit in their cars to watch the movie,” said Summers. “You know, the traditional experience is to put out your blanket or your lawn chairs and whatnot and sit outside.”

Hull’s is the nation’s oldest community-owned theater, running on memberships, donations, and sponsorships.

Nelson Schmidt has been a Hull’s member for 12 years and says he’s glad the theater has been able to stay open and keep customers safe.

“We are not concerned out here,” Schmidt said. “Everybody’s doing what they need to do and they, you know, enforce it and make sure that people are doing the right thing.”

“People have always come out here,” Reter said. “It’s a great atmosphere. Everybody loves bringing their families, kids, pets, everything out here.”

These precautions and the dedication from the staff have been able to keep a decades-long weekend tradition alive and help folks who pay for a ticket forget about what’s going on outside the screen… at least for a few hours.

“There’s a crowd around you when you’re watching a movie,” Schmidt said. “If there’s something funny, you hear everybody laugh, and you’re sitting under the stars. It’s just really nice.”

“It was probably the best solution to everybody’s need for some outlet other than staying at home,” Summers said.

You can see the upcoming showings for Hull’s here.

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