Updated 05/21/2012 06:12 PM
West Rome Drive-In lives on to see 61st season
The West Rome Drive-In has brought a little extra magic to movie-going since 1951, but for a while, it seemed last season might be its final one. Sarah Blazonis reports.
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ROME, N.Y. -- When word got around that the Davidson Automotive Group might buy the lot the West Rome Drive-In had called home for 60 years, it wasn't welcome news to residents.
"You lose that drive-in, you lose a big piece of history from around here. I remember the drive-in from way back. I think I first moved here in the 60s," said Rome resident Chris Ceffalia.
"It's a place that I grew up and my parents always took me to and now that I have children, I'd like to be able to take them there," said resident Rachel Daubeck.
One year later, the drive-in is gone, but not for long.
Davidson did buy the 20 acre lot that included the drive-in's land for its new dealership and collision center, but construction also includes revamping the road that lead to the theater, a new concession stand and bathrooms, and, of course, a new screen.
Right now, crews are working on building the base of the screen. That includes two pillars made of 46 yards of concrete that will hold the structure down. Although Davidson is handling the construction side of things, management will still be in the hands of Zurich Cinemas.
There will be a few changes. One screen will stand where there used to be two and there will be room for about 225 cars. That's only slightly less than the old drive-in.
Davidson officials say public support for the theater, including a Facebook group with more than 3,000 members, was the reason they decided to keep it going.
Romans say they're glad the city will still be able to boast this unique feature.
"These are things that make a community. It's the Rome Art Center, it's the Capitol Theater. They have different programs that people outside the area come to," said resident James DiBella.
And now it's certain the West Rome Drive-In will remain one of those attractions.
Davidson officials say they expect the drive-in to reopen by July 1 or sooner. They also say an electronic sign will be built to advertise movies and show times.