Doreen Sayegh is an impressive woman. She learned the movie theater biz by growing up in a family that ran independent theaters. Just as the pandemic hit she was busy renovating and re-opening a 100 year old movie house in Cranford. The Cranford Theater was a labor of love but had the worst timing with public health business closures. Did she let it stop her? Not a chance.

She got busy figuring out a plan B and thus was born the Cranford Drive-in Movie Theater in 2020. She got it set up in the parking lot of the Orange Avenue Pool at 1025 Orange Avenue. It ran from June through November of last year in a defiant ‘the show must go on’ answer to the pandemic troubles.

Sayegh wants to bring it back for a second season and it looks like it is a go. The Cranford Township Committee is holding a formal vote this week to allow the drive-in to return and unless something crazy happens it looks like they will green light it.

She says they’ll be showing plenty of classics but they may be adding in some new releases as well. Right now it looks like their first night back will be April 26. They hope for the season to run straight through to November.

Say what you want about drive-movies; how the quality was never good, how it was an inferior product. For me the charm was that it wasn’t just about a movie. It was part camping out. It was part tailgating. It was a feeling of getting away with something. For kids watching a movie in public yet being in your pajamas and being loud inside dad’s car. For grownups it was the benefits a dark car could provide while also being out watching a movie. For parents it was a cheap way to get out of the house and avoid a babysitter.

The first drive-in movie is said to have been born here in the Garden State. Richard Hollingshead was inspired by his own mother’s discomfort at sitting in a traditional movie theater seat for too long. He introduced his concept of watching a movie from your car on Crescent Boulevard in Camden in June 6, 1933.

All these years later the only permanent drive-in remaining is the Delsea in Vineland. The pandemic has brought back the concept in the form of pop-ups; temporary drive-movie theaters that people have been enjoying. Get out and enjoy them while they last!

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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