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First ‘Vallo Drive-In Movie’ deemed a success

MONTEVALLO – Drive-in movies might evoke memories of a bygone era, but their socially distanced format makes them a suitable entertainment option in the days of COVID-19.

After the Montevallo Junior City Council had to cancel its original summer movie plans, several organizations pooled their efforts and devised an alternative: a drive-in movie night.

The inaugural Vallo Drive-In Movie was shown at Shoal Creek Park on Friday, June 26.

“The first drive-in movie was a success, and we do hope to host another drive-in this summer but do not have a date set yet,” said Sarah Hogan, program director for Impact Montevallo, which took the lead on organizing the event as it fits well within the organization’s mission to identify strategies and resources that reduce youth substance use. “It is important that we provide family friendly activities to promote positive behavior choices for our youth. The drive-in event provided an opportunity for our diverse citizens to enjoy an activity together. No matter your age, a drive-in is something everyone can enjoy.”

The MJCC provided the first movie – a Disney film highlighting a group of students during their senior year – in honor of the Class of 2020, whose members dealt with drastic changes their last few months of high school because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to the generosity of a community member, we were able to use an FM transmitter for the movie audio, which ensured social distancing as it kept attendees in their cars,” Hogan said. “This event was truly a team effort, coming together to offer a fun activity for our community.”

The city’s public works department assisted with drawing a parking lot at Shoal Creek Park and utilizing a city-owned truck to raise the large inflatable screen high enough for viewers to see from their vehicles.

In addition, the parks and recreation department allowed attendees to use the pavilion facilities during the event.

The Parnell Memorial Library assisted with securing licensing for the film.

“I’m thankful to my community volunteers that assisted with set-up and traffic control,” Hogan added. “Steve Gilbert, director of the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce, assisted with providing voice-over on a PowerPoint that showcased community organizations, activities and reminders as attendees waited for the feature presentation. We even included some vintage movie refreshment ads from YouTube to add to the nostalgic drive-in feel.”

Hogan said the group would like to host additional films in a variety of genres to appeal to all interest groups, as long as funding can be secured for the licensing of each movie.

The MJCC donated the inflatable movie screen, which the group uses for its movies in the park.

Tickets were free to attendees who reserved spots in advance via an Eventbrite link.

Tickets were limited to 50 cars, and although all tickets were claimed within a few days of the posting, there was not a full house, according to Hogan.

“As attendees left they took a moment to thank the volunteers and stated how much fun they had and that it was a job well done,” Hogan said. “Even during the movie, one attendee was posting on social media how much she was enjoying the event with her husband and son. That’s what I call a success; we provided an uncommon experience where families and peers came together to enjoy a positive moment. We all have the ability to make an impact in our community.”

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